Monday, May 10, 2010

The Birthday Girl

It got kind of dicey when the doctors gave my wife Dayna an epidural in preparation for the C-section that would bring our second child from the womb to the world. Something went wrong. The anesthetic moved up instead of down, and Dayna went into respiratory arrest—she couldn’t breathe for the life of her. The doctors acted quickly. In less than a minute, I’d guess, they had her under general anesthetic and a breathing tube down her throat. The first C-section was smooth as silk; this one as smooth as sandpaper. But it all worked out. They put Dayna to sleep, made a quick and skilled incision across her waistline, and in a matter of seconds I got my first look at Kristen Anne McCallum. That all happened on May 10, 1982. And that little girl turns 28 years old today.

A baby girl. I knew nothing of girls. Having been raised among three brothers and having a two-year-old son when Kristen came into the world, I knew all about boys. I knew about wrestling and playing ball, about getting dirty and eating like a pig, about bodily functions and acting crude. And I knew how to discipline a boy too. They take a spanking pretty good. I could yell at a boy when I needed too. But how do you discipline a girl? I wasn’t sure I had it in me to yell at her. And I wasn’t sure I could spank her either. So I was kind of nervous about having a girl. Could I really enter her world? Other than the GI Joe I played with in the mid-60s, I’d never been around dolls in my life. And even then, GI Joe was no girl doll. He was always shooting the enemy and blowing stuff up. He’d have had no trouble wiping out Barbie if he thought she was a Communist. He was one bad dude. But this girl world was going to be different—dolls and tea parties, Kaboodles and My Little Ponies, jewelry and makeup, dresses and ribbons and lace. I hoped she’d at least like sports a little and was so pleased when she did. But this girl thing was going to be a whole new world for me. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to understand girls. And all these years later I’m not sure I understand them much better.

But I sure am glad God gave us that little girl named Kristen. What a gift! For the longest time we called her Krissy. It just seemed right. But you know how it goes: kids grow up, they get more independent, they want to put away certain childhood things, so Krissy became Kristen. I don’t remember exactly when that happened, but it just seems right to call her Kristen these days. She’s all grown up. She’s the wife of a good man, Robert, the mother of a beautiful little girl named Hallie, and carrying her second child as I write these words. She’s all grown up.

But there sure was joy in the journey to adulthood. She was always such a good kid—well-behaved, respectful of others (except maybe of her brother who wasn’t very respectful to her either), thoughtful, happy, a good friend, helpful, bright, humble, Christian. People have always described her as beautiful on the inside and the outside, a girl whose scent is sweeter than Chanel No. 5; it is the fragrance of Christ.

She took up music early on in her life and became quite good at the piano. I’ll never forget her first recital. It was a Halloween recital. So her mom made her a Razorback cheerleader outfit and Kristen played Arkansas Fight, elevating the mood of all in attendance—well, my mood anyway (we lived in Missouri at the time). I guess a lot of my memories revolve around Kristen’s music. I remember her writing songs and playing them (usually after I was in bed), but what a treat. One of those songs was published and churches were singing it in worship all over the country. She wrote a song for my son's boy Noah when he was born, and even though I've heard it a thousand times that song still makes me misty. There’s just something about the way she plays and sings that touches the hearts of those who hear. I think it’s because her music comes from the depths of who she is and from a heart that has been touched by God. Though this is not a word I toss around lightly, there is an anointing in her music, and God has just used her in that way for years and years.

Like any kid she had her share of heartaches too—disappointments, boy stuff (though she never was boy-crazy, thank God), frustrations, the time in second grade when she had to get glasses, the time we moved from the only home she ever knew just in time to start eighth-grade in a whole new state and a whole new school. But she did just fine. As has always been the case with Kristen, everywhere she goes she finds people who were just waiting for her to walk into their lives—some friends here in Hot Springs, college friends, a group of teenage girls she discipled and mentored during her college years, and then finally this guy named Robert Parrish.

I remember when she told us she thought Robert was the one. I wasn't so sure. But then again, I wouldn't have been sure of anyone. We're talking about my little girl here. But the truth is: she couldn’t have picked a finer man, nor he a finer woman. They married in June of 2005. I was a little taken aback at the cost of such an undertaking. Kristen has always been pretty practical but my cheapness outweighed her practicality in the wedding process. Thankfully, I only made her cry a couple of times. I was being cheap and stupid, and I regret that now. But she had a great wedding, and as a church newsletter reported after their annual picnic, “a good time was had by all.” She deserved far more than we were able to do, but I’m so glad we could do what we did for her.

She’s doing fine these days—still serving the Lord along with her husband through TBarM Christian Camps deep in the heart of Texas. She’s still encouraging young people in their walk with Jesus. She’s still singing to the Lord and active in her church. She’s a virtuous wife. She’s an excellent mother. And no mom and dad could ever hope for a finer daughter. She stays in touch. She sends encouraging notes, knowing just what to say and how to say it. She sends tons of pictures of Hallie. And Dayna and I still pinch ourselves to think that this little child born 28 years ago became God’s good gift to us. Though the wisdom writer said this about his wife, I want to borrow his words and say them about my daughter Krissy, oops … Kristen: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

I hope you’re not too embarrassed by my praise today, Kristen. But I can’t help myself. I have loved you since the doctor told your mother she was pregnant. I have loved you every day of your life. I will love you forever. I am thankful for you, proud of you, and honored to be your dad. Happy Birthday, Kris! And God willing, many, many more.


  1. Oh Pastor; this is one of the sweetest things I have ever read. From what I now believe I know about Kristen - there is just noWAY she'll be any way but absolutely honored and glowing with pride after reading this. You and Dayna are blessed to have such a wonderful daughter; but she's ONE blessed lady to have you two as well !
    We miss you !
    Love Lori and Marcus

  2. What a great post!! I can relate, having grown up with a brother, raising girls is somewhat different! My girls are early in their life's journey and reading your post about Kristen makes me look forward to the days and years ahead. Thank you, Pastor for being such a great father to not just Kristen, but of all of us!

    Scott Burton