A little over 18 years ago a young girl named Anna Dodd arrived into the world. Due to complications during child birth, I held her for the first two hours of her life. The Bible teaches that where words are many, sin abounds. Well, there was probably a lot of sinning going on during those first two hours because I talked to her non-stop.
I told her how much Jesus loved her and had an incredible plan for her life. I told her about the great family she was about to be a part of. And I told her she would change the world.
Over the next couple of years, I read her countless children books as she sat on my lap, watched countless episodes of Barney, pushed countless strollers and I would not have traded those times for anything in the world.
Anna and I also had a date night every Thursday as her mom was in a Bible study class. It mainly consisted of reading books and watching sports together. When she reached the point of being able to carry on a conversation we started going on Saturday morning daddy-daughter dates. Panera Bread was our place of choice. Over the next 10+ years we rarely missed a Saturday.
Because of her musical talent, Anna started leading worship at our church in the 6TH GRADE!!! By the end of high school, she was regularly leading in adult services like the picture shown above at NorthStar Church. You can see her giftedness in the video at the top of this post. She also frequently shared her testimony with younger girls seeing dozens of them coming to Christ. Thank you Fellowship Bible Church, North Metro Church, and NorthStar Church for creating venues like this for children of a younger age to serve the Lord.
She has done multiple internships at area churches and this past summer got her first paid staff position at the great NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, GA.
But most importantly, she absolutely LOVES JESUS! And this past weekend, my wife (her mother) and I dropped this incredible young lady off to begin her freshman year at Liberty University. See the picture above taken yesterday.
In addition to the reflections above, the following are additional thoughts I have on dropping my daughter off at college:
- There Is A Clash Of Emotions – I was speaking to a pastor on Thursday and he said, “Brian, be prepared for a clash of emotions.” He was right. There is a mixture of sadness but also unbelievable pride in having such a wonderful daughter who is living out God’s plan for her life. You are extremely sad but joyful at the same time because this is the way it is supposed to be.
- I LOVE Liberty University – In fact, there is nothing about Liberty I don’t love. The campus is safe. The curriculum reinforces her biblical worldview. You can literally walk the entire campus. It is located in a great city. Everything is designed for the students to succeed and become everything God created them to be.
- Emotions Ambush You – There were two instances when I was ambushed with emotion. The first was leaving my hotel to say our final goodbye. That was a long walk down that hallway. The other was eating lunch today. My wife asked me what I was thinking about. I replied, “Nothing.” The truth is I was thinking about a lot.
- Relationships Matter – Anna has a number of friends attending the school as well. This will make the transition easier.
- Care Is Important – My wife and I have met one of her professors and a member of the administration. They genuinely care about these kids. I am leaving my daughter in good hands.
- Begin Investing In A Financial Plan Early – We have a plan and currently have no debt planned in the first year. If we stay according to plan we prayerfully will finish with little to no debt after four years. However, I made a HUGE mistake by not taking advantage of the 529 plan. A friend of mine told me he started investing in his daughter’s education when she was born. Her education will completely be paid for when she finishes high school with half those funds coming from compound interest. If I could do it all over again, I would invest heavily in the 529 plan.
- Do Not Miss Moments – The best times in my life were those Saturday morning dates with my daughter. I am so glad I blocked off those times and prioritized them. Take advantage of every stage of life because when they are gone, you can’t get them back.
- I Am So Attached To Her Dreams – Anna is going to be a Psychology major. I love watching her light up when she shows me her syllabus and tells me about what she is excited to learn. When you are attached to someone’s dreams, it is an honor to invest in it.
- Anna Will Do Great – Anna has been preparing for this all her life. God never called anyone to an easy task. There will be challenging and difficult times but she’s got this.
- Her Mother And I Will Do Great – We are now empty nesters. But my wife, who is also my best friend, and I were alone together for eight years before Anna was born. I think we are going to settle back in just fine.
If you are in Christian leadership, remember the name Anna Dodd. I think you will be hearing it again.
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