Recently we had our annual Father/Daughter hunt on a ranch in South Texas. The place is made for our type of events with good sleeping quarters, lots of wild animals and my all time favorite cook shack. The daughters loved the time with dad. I still see things I could do to improve the event but God always takes care of the time we have with Him there.
The one girl who was there without a father was Kayla. Her daddy was killed in an auto accident. I have hunted and mentored her brother for years. Interesting fact, he has always wanted to be a paleontologist until last year. When we were filming a small clip with him for the Kids Outdoor Zone (KOZ) banquet he said “screw being a paleontologist I am going to be a KOZ hunting guide.” I am not sure if hanging with me has helped or not, but he does love hunting and fishing.
In the last few years God has taken this lost little girl who I had pegged for pregnant and dropped out by 15, and moved her into His arms. I feel my emotions welling up as I write this. I am so sorry I doubted you Lord, for doubting Kayla. She never liked the idea of all the hunting we did or anything about it . Then a couple months before the D/D hunt she mentioned she would like to go. I told her if she really wanted to, I would take her.
The first afternoon, Friday, I took her and several other girls to shoot the KOZ .17 rifle. This was her first time to ever shoot a gun and she hit dead on four of six shots and the other two were slightly to one side but deadly. Wow.
Saturday morning we were fogged in and could not shoot at what we saw safely. That afternoon we returned to the blind and watched a large group of javelina, some nice bucks, birds and all types of other wild game. Then it happened, the perfect opportunity. A lone doe came out and stood broadside. Kayla took her time, set up and dropped the deer in its tracks. It seemed at that moment I saw something in her eyes, a twinkle or glimmer, a light. I am holding back my emotions again as I write this. It was so clear, so pure, so real, God was there.
The loss of her father has never really come up much in conversations over the years. That weekend in the deer blind as we sat in the warm sun she talked about her feelings, how she missed him and how she loved her mom. I could see how God had made her strong in some areas. I could see she accepted His arm around her to help her walk through where she is in her life today and with the cards that have been dealt her.
On Saturday night at hunt camp I had the girls write a letter to their dad. Taylor my daughter and I talked about the letter with Kayla. She was OK with it. She took her pen and paper and went outside to write the letter. Her plan was to put it on his grave. I was moved by her strength.
Psalm 59:16But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
I collected the letters to be given to the dads at the end of the weekend.
Sunday came and Kayla shot a second deer that morning. The girls all did really well and harvested deer. My daughter Taylor had all the girls joking that retail stores were going to have to start selling bullets one at a time because they didn’t need to buy more than one or two. I loved that.
As we all began to go our way Sunday afternoon I gave the fathers the letters. My daughter had one in the stack for me. There was also one for me from Kayla. The instructions were to read them later that evening as well as the notes the fathers wrote to the girls.
In the letter I got from Kayla she tells me “Thanks for teaching me how to shoot a gun. I feel like I can accomplish anything at this moment. Thanks for the great talks and for taking me to a father and daughter event, I have never been to one.” My heart skipped a beat. I am crying again.
The time I got to spend with the girls on this event reminded me what true beauty is. What I see in them is beauty from the inside out. They are strong and courageous, determined and mindful. They are soft and gentle and funny and caring. They are searching for a loving Father and have begun to see Him in their walk with the Lord. They inspire me and make me laugh; they frustrate me and own my heart all at the same time.
Lord thank you for the opportunity to spend time with the girls hunting. Thank you for their joyous and wonderful hearts. Thanks for the clean shots and deer that were harvested. Thanks for the girls willingness to clean them and the cookies they made Saturday night. Lord, I also pray for the young men you have picked out already for these girls. I pray they know early these girls can shoot, they can handle a gut knife, a four wheeler, a credit card, a Chi hair straightener and they aren’t messing around.