Her tears were tears of joy. After having two boys, we were going to have a girl! With that, we made plans for Grace Easton Culbreth to enter the world. Grace was born on Sept. 30, 1993, in Gwinnett Medical Center in metro Atlanta. She was a perfect baby, all 8.8 pounds of her. A cute little “Gerber baby” with a bald head and a smile that would melt a daddy’s heart.
Over the years, Marybeth and I found that it is much different raising a girl than it was with two boys. There are more tears, more emotions. But, there are also blessings. Grace is now 18, almost 19 and is getting ready to head off to Samford University for her freshman year. I’m really proud of Grace! She is a strong Christian who has a love and zest for life. She is a beautiful young woman in body and in spirit. I know that God has great plans for her if she will continue to follow Him.
What kind of advice would a father give his daughter before she moves out of the house into the freedom of college? Here are several things that I plan to share with her and you too should share with your child:
1. Be a strong Christian witness on campus. Keep your spiritual disciplines alive. That means keep praying daily, study the Bible frequently and don’t neglect going to worship. Keep serving and telling others about Jesus.
2. College is a place where you won’t have anyone telling you when to get up or go to bed. It would be easy to forget why you are there. Remember that we are sending you there to get an education so that you can get a job when you graduate.
3. Realize that all sorts of people will be on campus. Some will be from small towns. Some people will be from huge cities. Some will be from other countries. This can be a great learning experience for you to be around people from other parts of the country and from other countries. Get to know them.
I know that every parent realizes that when you send your child off to college, your job is still not done. Granted, they will not be home every night, but now the real work begins. Not only do we as parents have the responsibility to help them get the best start in life, but we must not neglect to continue to pray for them.
I know that over the years with our sons and now with our daughter, my prayers have mainly centered around these areas:
•Pray for their safety. While college for the most part is safe, there are some dangers. My oldest son, Andrew, was a sophomore at Virginia Tech when that terrible shooting took place on the campus in 2007. Thankfully, Andrew was safe, but many lost a loved one that day.
•Pray for their Christian walk. College is a place where their faith will be tested. Pray that God will protect them and keep them strong in their Christian walk.
Pray that they will get involved in some evangelical Bible studies while on campus.
My prayer is that Grace will come out of college a stronger Christian.
•Pray for their prospective spouse. It may be at college that Grace meets her future husband. My prayer for him is that he will be a strong Christian who will provide godly loving leadership for my precious daughter and their future family.
•Pray that they graduate with a sense of purpose and make a positive Christian impact in a world that desperately needs to hear the redeeming message of Christ.
Before we know it, the next four years will fly by. In the blink of an eye she will be walking across the stage and receiving her Bachelor’s degree. I know we will be proud.
When I found out that we were having a girl, I prayed, quite selfishly, that “she would take after her mother and be a beautiful young lady, rather than look like me.” Now, I thank God because she has an outward beauty, but more importantly, an inward glow that transcends any earthly sense of glamour.
As with us all, that outward beauty will one day fade, but may that inward grace continue all her life.
I love you Grace, and I’m proud of you!
Dr. Dennis R. Culbreth is the senior pastor of Jasper’s First Baptist Church www.jaspersfbc.org.