My daughter is growing up. I've been seeing it for a while now, as Melody has matured a lot over the past several years, but this past week has lifted her into a new level of maturity. It started last week with her introduction to Light Company, the Middle High youth program at our church, Grace Community. It continued this week with her "graduation" from 5th grade, her first service in The Warehouse at church, and then the big school "dance" last night. I've known that this was coming, but I guess I wasn't exactly prepared for it. I can't help but be excited for her.
After a week in Oklahoma City, I was anxious to get home. Friday was the school's celebration for the fifth graders, starting at 2 p.m., and my flight was due to get into BWI at 10:30 a.m. I would have plenty of time to get there, but there was one little wrinkle: a potential storm was reportedly headed towards OKC that morning. As it turned out, it was just a bit of exaggeration by the weather guy. In reality, there was a storm headed that way, but it wouldn't arrive until after we landed at BWI. As long as we didn't have any mechanical problems, I would get home in plenty of time. And we did.
The school limited the attendees to two family/friends per 5th grader. There was limited seating, and they let parents know that younger children should be left at home. The school even sent home two tickets with each child, so no one could sneak in. The 2-person limitation was problematic for our family. I'm a single dad, and while I needed to be there, only one other person could go, and all of Melody's grandparents put up good arguments for claiming the last ticket. Since my father is the family camera-man, it made the most sense to have him be there, to record the program and make copies for everyone. While I know my mother-in-law really wanted to be there, everyone seemed to be okay with this decision.
The program was a lot of fun, and Melody sang her heart out with her classmates. They had a slide show which featured all of the kids throughout the past school year (and they even had several slides of me from their Career Day program back in January). It was a touching ceremony. Afterwards, we went home to regroup, then the whole family met at one of Melody's favorite restaurants, La Palapa Too, for a celebratory dinner.
On Saturday, Melody and I went out to find a dress for the fifth grade dance at the school. We lucked out at Marshal's and found one fairly quickly, a very nice royal blue dress that was very modest and similar in style to the dresses her mom used to wear. She got herself all dressed up, and then we went to church. This would be Melody's first chance to attend church as a member of the youth group, and she enjoyed it a great deal. She is in a small group of young ladies her age, and I believe she will find it to be a blessing. After church, we ran over to Chick-Fil-A for a dinner-to-go, then immediately drove to the school for the big dance. They had a red carpet at the entrance, and I took a few pictures and let her go into the party.
I went home to eat, and I reflected on how far we've come. Teresa, my wife, and I wanted Melody to have the best life possible, and while one might say that's impossible after Teresa's death when Melody was five months old, I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by such a wonderful family. I could not have done this without them, and they get just as much credit as me for how Melody has turned out. She is such a wonderful, caring, beautiful little girl. I owe it all to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is ever present in our lives.
James 1:2-4 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
I went to pick up Melody at 9 p.m., and upon entering the school's cafeteria, the party was still going strong. There were a number of teachers and faculty present, and everyone was having a great time. It was fun to see. I imagine for many of the kids, this was their first opportunity to attend something like this. Melody saw me and came over, out of breath but smiling big. She said, "Daddy, this was one of the most exciting nights EVER!" She was beaming. I was so happy for her.
Thank you, Lord, for my Melody Grace. I love her so much, Lord, and I continue to pray for her well-being and happiness. I also pray that she will know You, Lord. Thank you for being so present in our lives.
Have a great week, everyone!