Time goes by very quickly. It doesn’t seem like eighteen years ago that we were hanging balloons in the office to celebrate Leah’s arrival.
It would be difficult for me to be more proud of the person Leah has grown up to be. She has an incredible work ethic. She’s maintained commitments to her dance team, her Science Olympiad team, her music, her volunteer work, her work at Cleveland Clinic , and hopefully…her twelfth and final season on her summer swim team. She’s never backed down from any academic challenges. Her accomplishments through high school are more substantial than mine were at her age.
I’m most impressed by Leah’s wisdom and character. She makes good choices. I don’t worry about her judgment when she’s out on the weekend.
My favorite story to share involving Leah took place when she was nine years old. The family came along with me when I was in Chicago giving a lecture…our trip included the obligatory stop at the original American Girl store on Michigan Avenue. She was usually very excited to be in the store but became edgy and teary-eyed when I asked her what she wanted to buy…answering that she preferred not to buy anything but instead wanted to save her money until she could buy the spectacular dollhouse she wanted.
Leah had actually saved enough money to pay for the dollhouse… but she gave it all away weeks before at Vacation Bible School when the kids were raising money for wheelchairs for kids in third-world countries through the Wheels For The World program operated by Joni and Friends. Let’s just say that Leah’s generosity was rewarded…and my wife got to see Ozzy Osbourne get into the car parked in front of us as I was loading the dollhouse into the back of our SUV.
When our kids were young, my wife and I did something that was difficult for us. We decided to transition out of our church that we liked a great deal to begin attending a church closer to our home, largely because we wanted our kids to have a Christian peer group in school. I think the decision worked out pretty well, but not for the reasons we intended.
There were two things about Leah’s church experience that were really important…
First, she was given the opportunity to serve. For the past five years, Leah has gotten up early to teach the preschool Sunday School class at her nearby church. She and I will joke about her “minions” and just how many goldfish crackers it took to placate her kids on any given Sunday. I believe her offer to donate $100 to Key Ministry if I could manage her kids for one Sunday without resorting to the use of medication is still good. And while her lessons probably weren’t of the depth that one would experience at Dallas Seminary, I can’t help but think that having a really smart, successful girl spend time with them every week reinforcing what their parents were teaching them at home about Jesus couldn’t help but to have made a big impact.
Second, she had adults from outside our family who were willing to spend time with her and to reinforce the beliefs and values that my wife and I were seeking to communicate at home. I’m very appreciative of Jim and Audrey Kristoff for opening their home and opening themselves to Leah and a bunch of high school kids for the last four years, along with John and Bayley and Bridget and Sally and Keith and the other adults from her church who invested their time in her. It takes a church…two churches in Leah’s case…to come alongside a family as they raise a child.
While we’re not quite sure where Leah will be this coming Fall, she’ll be taking the next steps toward her goal of becoming an outstanding physician/researcher. She’ll be a credit to the medical profession. Above all, I’m confident Leah will go on to honor God and serve His purposes in her generation.
Happy Birthday Leah! Your mom and dad couldn’t possibly be more proud of the person you’ve grown up to be.