‘A long, slow baptism.’ That’s what songwriter Walt Wilkins called it.

My little girl turned two last week. Our oldest, Garrett, flew home with his fiancé, Shayna, for Brazos’s birthday - and to make wedding plans. They will be getting married next spring under ‘the Big Tree.’

A couple of years ago it would have been hard to imagine how our lives might look today. Most of my worries were about the drought, wondering what I would do when the cattle were gone – when the ranchers quit calling. We were overjoyed by this wonderful ‘surprise,’ but we couldn’t help but wonder how we would make it.

I watched that little surprise walk out the front door into the rain a few minutes ago, wearing pink and camouflage. She asked if we could check hog traps when she got home – traps I haven’t baited in months.  But still we climb into that old Chevy and check them at least three or four times a week. I imagine she will tell her children about it someday, and I’m destined to be remembered as the worst trapper ever.

I’m proud to report that it will be too muddy to check traps tonight.

A few weeks ago we made a trip to Throckmorton to witness the baptism of my cousin’s youngest, Will, in his favorite fishing hole. Will is 11 and evidence that his parents, Ken and Kellie, haven’t grasped the concept of birth control any better than Jenni and I have. They have three beautiful girls, ranging in age from 17 to 26. Like Brazos, Will was a surprise. In fact, 11 years later, Ken and Kellie still seem a little surprised.

Over the years we’ve been honored to share many special moments with Ken and Kellie and their kids. We’ve been there for graduations and basketball games, Madison’s first boyfriend and Halie’s first hangover, and we have loved those kids like they were our own. But it wasn’t a special occasion that I remembered as I watched Will’s baptism – it was a football game.

It was at that football game almost two decades ago that I met Emilie. Ken and Kellie sat down next to us on the bleachers and put her in my arms. She was little more than blond curls and big brown eyes – and the most beautiful child I had ever seen.  I asked the Lord that day, and many since, for a little girl of my own and I know that He has granted me what I asked of Him. Not because I asked for a child, but because I asked for this child.

After Will’s baptism, I watched silently as Emilie knelt next to Brazos at the water’s edge. It was one of those moments when you realize that things are exactly as they should be. As a father of two sons I already knew how much I could love, but thanks to those two girls kneeling by the water, I knew how shamelessly. 

I took a step back and thanked the Lord for those two girls, and that moment in time – and for my own ‘long, slow baptism.’