The picture above was taken last Saturday in our backyard.  Amanda and the boys went out to lunch to spend some time together.  I was enjoying some one-on-one time with my little girl, Gloria.

With a list a mile long of things that needed to get done or could get done, I was very tempted to set her in front of something that would occupy her attention while I worked.

As a progress-aholic, I am used to taking such steps.  Last Saturday, the Holy Spirit and Gloria wouldn’t let me.

I got an old quilt that I bought in Guatemala years ago, and I laid it out in the backyard underneath the shade of an old tree.  As I laid down on it, my daughter cackled in delight as she repeatedly climbed over this fun obstacle named “Dada.”  We laughed, tickled, and talked.  At one point, she just laid her head down in the cusp of my arm.  The shade and the breeze was just right I think I drifted off to sleep for a moment before I realized she had scooted away from the security of the quilt.

She started crawling her way to the swing set.  She was unsure of the grass’ texture as she crawled and kept looking back at me for affirmation that the current course was safe.

I waved at her and said, “Bye, bye” as she scurried away.  She then looked back with those serious eyes, and she started booking it back to me on the quilt.  For the rest of the afternoon, we stayed there together on the quilt until it was time for nap time inside.

Peace.  Stillness.  Purpose.  Slowing down for something that matters.

I realized that I was given approximately 936 Saturdays with Gloria before she graduates high school.  That may seem like a lot, but it’s not.  I’m already down to 882.  While I will be this precious girl’s father for the rest of her life, my role will change with her.  She won’t always live with me.  She always won’t rely on my affirmation when she charts new courses.  I won’t always be the man that she runs to for security.

And I have a lot I need to teach her.  I want to provide her with the needed security.  I need her to grasp the joy of following Jesus.  And my time is running out.  And I don’t want to waste my children’s Saturdays on worthless pursuits that keeps their father away from them.  Whether they be hobbies or work, it is not worth the risk of missing my children growing up.

Parents, be present.  Slow down.  Don’t make it all about your personal interests or timetable.  Our children’s rearing years are a limited window which closes a little bit more every day.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.