The Distance

"The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous." Proverbs 15:29

"If I could hear Christ praying for me, I would not fear a million enemies. But the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me." Robert Murray M'Cheyne

This morning I woke up with the sobering realization that this is the last day I will have my little family of four under the same roof, and under the same name. My wife and daughters are fast asleep for a little while longer. Hopefully, changing the battery in one of the chirping smoke detectors will help them rest without any further interupptions.

Tonight we go to a rehearsal to prepare for the wedding of our first born, Ashley. She will spend tonight with us for the last time as a Miller. She will change her name to Warren on Friday night, and it comes as no surprise that she won't be living under my roof or under my name any longer. This is a great day for her and a sad day for me all rolled into one. Don't ask me to explain it. I can't. It must be a Dad thing.

There have been so many "last minute" things to do to prepare for the wedding rehearsal and dinner, that the final hours are coming at me with the speed of light. There has been the moving of our daughters from their apartment to our home. We transferred Ashley's furniture over to her fiancee's home, and painted bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen. Allyson downsized and moved in with us for a few months. She needed time to let the dust settle after serving as Maid of Honor, taking on a new job, and graduating with her Master's Degree in Leadership from Dallas Baptist University. Her move-in meant a move for me too. My upstairs office had to be reduced and relocated downstairs. I sifted through my shelves and culled out, gave away or reboxed my books for storage in the garage. Did I tell you this has been the hottest summer on record in Texas? We have chosen to do the craziest of things in the hottest of times.

There are family and friends gathering, from all over the country. Some are on the road, and expected momentarily. Others are heading to the airports and their ETA's are in God's hands. We are anticipating a houseful in a few short hours. There will be a wedding rehearsal at the church and a dinner at a restaurant tonight. Dana will host a Bridesmaid's Brunch in our home on Friday morning, and then it will be time to head to the church to decorate and prepare for the wedding at 7:00 P.M.

It doesn't take much of a prophet to foresee that solitude to reflect on this day in such a concentrated space and tight time frame will be hard to come by. These early morning hours are quiet enough now for God to give me a little peace of His mind. I'm going to take advantage of his availability while everyone else is sleeping.

Father, thank you for placing Ashley into my life. She has been an answer to my prayers and the deepest longing of my heart. As a young husband, I recall the season of my life when you placed in me a hunger to be a Daddy. It was a new feeling for me. I had never experienced anything like it.

When Dana and I discovered she was expecting, it was a great day in our lives. We couldn't wait to share the good news with everyone we knew. We will always be grateful for those folks at First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma who prepared such a soft landing zone for Ashley. When they discovered that the church's health insurance plan did not cover pregnancy, they put together a party and raised up a "Money Tree." When we picked the fruit, we had $2,500.00 to pay for the hospital and medical bills. God, you have such a great and generous family. Thank you for letting us be a part of it all these years.

Ashley, you have been loved by some of the finest people God ever made. You may not remember their names, but just the same, never forget them. They have not forgotten you. I am so glad that you arrived in my life on December 6, 1979. I will never forget what Sharon Ross said to me that day. She was standing next to me at the window of the hospital nursery. You were only a few hours old, but already such a beautiful little girl. I was trying to take it all in when she said, "That is a little blank slate, and you can write on it anything that you want." I almost passed out with fear. I had never felt so indadequte for task in all my life. I still do. Being your Daddy has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Trainng up a child in the way she should go has brought me to the end of myself so many times. Often I felt unprepared for the calling, and I called out to God on your behalf for Him to do for you what I could not do. I believe my prayers have been heard. You are an amazing work of His grace and His handprints are all over your life. Thank you for listening to God when I did not know what to do.

My heart has ached for you to know the love, the companionship and the completion that comes to a person when God brings a mate into their life. Truly, Dana has been God's perfect gift to me. I have prayed that your marriage partner's heart would be stamped with the same undeniable impression, "MADE IN HEAVEN." Again, my prayers have been heard. Receive Brent as God's perfect gift to you. God picked him. God prepared him. You prayed for him. Don't stop. "No complaints. No exchanges. All sales final." THE MANAGMENT.

Back in December 0f 2010, you were facing another birthday, and you could not see what God had in store for you. You needed hope. I felt strongly impressed to buy your wedding dress for you as a statement of faith in God's plan for your life. In days of old, young ladies would prepare for their wedding day, and marriage by setting precious items, momentos, or clothing in a hope chest. I felt you needed to place your hope in God, and prepare for this day with a sense of expectation and joy. It was my joy to take you out and buy your wedding dress before God revealed His choice of your husband. I loved seeing your face light up with the idea that God was up to something in your life. Never forget that you are always on His mind, and He is always planning how to place the gift of His grace in some new package just for you.

God's delay does not always mean His denial. It may mean that He is doing such a great work that He wants to complete His finishing touches on His gift. He loves to see the look on His child's face when He exceeds their expectations. You might recall, the night I shared with you about my sense of urgency for your dress, I was scheduled to have coffee with Brent at the Starbuck's in Southlake Town Center. He and I spent the evening catching up on what had been going on in his life. In a few weeks, he was asking my permission to step into your life, and ask you into his. The rest of your love story has yet to be written, but I really like the intro.

Ashley, I have always enjoyed our morning times together. Since you were a little girl in second grade in Borger, Texas, we have been going out on breakfast dates together. I was so glad when the day came that we moved from Burger King to McDonalds. Then we graduated to I-HOP, and a real breakfast menu. Recently you have shared your love for Starbuck's with me. So, today Starbuck's it is. I look forward to our last cup of coffee with Miss Miller, but I am looking forward to many more with the lovely Mrs. Warren.

Remember that your Heavenly Father is only a prayer away. Keep Him on speed dial. He has a great long distance plan. I am on call too, and always will be proud to be called...

Your Daddy.