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Nine Long Months

Updated on August 24, 2013
Serving God in Cambodia
Serving God in Cambodia | Source

Mother and Child Need Those Nine Months

The average gestation period for human beings is nine months.

During those nine months of vivipary --simply put, a woman carrying a child inside of her--mother and child are intimately connected with each other.

Physically.

Emotionally.

Psychologically.

Spiritually.

The delicate entity within the womb needs every bit of those nine months to grow and develop and prepare for the very special day when he or she is finally released from confinement.

With all the physiological, emotional, and hormonal changes the mother goes through, she, too, needs every bit of those nine months to prepare for that very special day when she physically liberates a significant portion of her body.

And what about the father?

Daddy Needed Every Bit of Those Nine Months, Too!

Twenty-one years ago, when Mom first discovered that you had taken up residence inside her body, thus disrupting her all-too-familiar monthly visitor, she shared the wonderful news with me.

I was unable to contain my excitement, and your big brother, who was a little over five years old at the time, wondered aloud what the celebration was all about. Mom and I smiled and looked at each other, and in a mutual understanding that finds its way into the hearts of couples closely connected--one union, under God--we lovingly informed him that he was going to have a little baby brother or sister.

Having been our only child for some time, we were sensitive to how he might take the news that he would soon have to relinquish part of center stage to a complete stranger.

Our concern was for naught. From the moment he found out the good news, Brother fell in love with you. His sweet aloha and respect for and commitment to you has remained intact and steadfast for over twenty years now.

And your daddy?

From the very beginning, I would lay my head upon Mommy's tummy and talk to you. No baby talk, mind you...I conversed with you, heart to heart, soul to soul, laying down a solid foundation of love, trust, and commitment, speaking to you with ever-increasing belief that even your simple-celled substance at the time had the capability to comprehend a father's love for his unborn child.

As the days...and the weeks...and the months went by, I took advantage of every moment I could have to visit you at the site of Mommy's tummy...that beautiful and wondrously expanding tummy that miraculously amplified and added a timbrous element to my voice.

I read stories to you; I prayed with you; I shared my dreams with you; I poured my heart out to you. I reminded you often that I was your daddy and that I would love and protect you for all the days of my life.

In so doing, I myself grew and developed as an individual, realizing with greater conviction, day after day, that God had given me even greater purpose and responsibility and--yes!--reason divine to be a better human being.

Mommy's tummy--I smile as I recall the beauty of it all--became both our figurative and literal family altar. It was where, at the beginning of each day and the end of each evening, we four met to praise and thank God that we were a family.

Yes, my darling daughter, I, too, needed every bit of those nine months to mature into a strong and responsible and protective father for you.

When You Were Two

Dark brown curly hair framing a cherub's face,

You personified Amazing Grace.

Both fluid and solid in your daddy's strong arms,

You held me captive with your little girl charms!

Parasol Princess
Parasol Princess | Source

And Then You Were Five!

We played this game, you and I, where I put you on one end of the swing set in the backyard and told you to find a way to make it to the other side without touching the ground.

At first, you weren't strong enough to hold your weight up as you attempted to move along the horizontal pole from one end of the swing set to the swing. But you knew I'd be there to catch you and keep you from hurting yourself. Confident in my protection, you fiercely persevered at your task until one day, you made it all the way across! And then again! And again! Oh, you were so pleased with yourself. And I--oh, I was so very proud of you!

It got to be where you could do this while simultaneously engaging me in a role play where you pretended to be news reporter lady, taking turns interviewing and being interviewed by me. It was your blatant way of telling me, Daddy, you're not the only one who can multi-task! I can be just like you!

Sweet Leilani
Sweet Leilani | Source

At Nine, We Met Keoki

Keoki...

Please assure me that you remember our friend, Keoki.

He's a symbol of the little girl in awe of her daddy.

We had another game, you and I. From the time you were little, I'd snatch you up in my arms and spin you around and around. You loved it!

Again, Daddy! Do it again!

And I'd comply with your wishes, eventually begging you to let me rest. You had me so tuckered out.

About the age of 9, it was getting harder for me to pick you up. Not because I lacked the strength...but because my little girl was growing up and becoming a bit of a sophisticated young lady. Way too early, I thought, as I found myself struggling to let you go.

No, God, she's still my little girl. Don't let her grow up too fast! Extend this special season, Lord. Don't let it slip away too quickly!

One day, I asked you if I could spin you. I know, it was getting a bit silly, and even Mom was raising her eyebrows at me.

I could see you weren't into it, but I wasn't about to give up so quickly.

I don't know if God in His Fatherly empathy gave me the flash of brilliance. All I know is that the thought abruptly came to mind, and I wasn't going to let the moment pass.

Honey, we're going to do a science experiment today!

Always up for new and exciting adventure, you agreed. I quickly picked you up, and before you could protest, I dashed outside and headed for the tall spruce tree next to the creek.

Look up there, sweetie!

What are we looking for, Daddy?

Honestly, I didn't have a clue. All I knew is that I wanted this one last moment to hold my little girl before I would forever have to relinquish the joy of having her perched in my arms. Silly, perhaps, but my eyes felt the conflicting interest of a logjam attempting desperately to hold back the source of the waterfall.

I was about to tell you that I just wanted you to see the pattern the branches made when viewed from ground level when a miracle took place.

One of the branches moved.

Honey, look! Did you see that?

Yeah, Daddy! What was that?

I don't know. Keep looking!

There was no movement for a few seconds. And then it happened. Something small and brown hopped from one branch to another. And that's when we were able to identify the sweet mystery.

It's a wood owl, honey!

Yeah, I can see him!

This is really cool! We gotta give him a name. How about Keoki? (Keoki is Hawaiian for George.)

Okay, Daddy. Hi, Keoki!

I've never doubted that there's a God. In this very moment, I was assured that not only does God exist; He also has a very special place in his heart for silly daddies who utter silly prayers that their daughters never grow up.

I thanked Him silently, reveling in the joy that for one last time, perhaps, He had helped me to look like an awesome father--perhaps even a hero of sorts--who could conjure up a wood owl on a whim with which to delight his beautiful little girl.

Such is the magic of a storybook moment.

Vintage Aloha
Vintage Aloha | Source

The Seattle Blizzard of 2009

Fast forward to 2009.

A severe downturn in the economy, and I find myself working a graveyard shift as a bagel baker in Redmond, Washington.

I'm a five-hour drive northwest of my family. But it might as well be 20,000 miles.

It sucks.

I have recently moved to a new residence in Lake Forest Park, a community just north of Lake Washington. It's two bus rides or the equivalent of an hour and a half commute to work in the morning, and the same for the trip back to the house that I share with my landlord.

And then the snow comes.

In eastern Washington, we're used to the snow. But the Seattleites are not as experienced with the white stuff, and the inevitable result is a whole lot of buses that can't make their routes, a whole lot of accidents, and a whole lot of hard feelings.

The snow falls...and falls...and falls.

By the time I return to Lake Forest Park one evening, it is pitch black, and the snowfall is up to a couple of feet. I'm peering out from the bus, unable to identify the exact spot where I'm supposed to stop.

Like I said, it sucks.

I take a chance and get off the bus at the bottom of a hill. I almost slip and fall because the ground is so slick with old snow that has now frozen into treacherous ice.

With each step I take, I have to lift my boots high enough to pull out from the vacuum created from that last step and high enough to step into the two-foot high snow. I'm tired from having worked an eight hour shift, and the additional three-plus hours of commuting, not to mention the freezing cold while waiting between buses, is rapidly taking a toll on my body and--worse yet--my psychological state. Intuitively, I am aware of and dread the impending hypothermia. I am especially concerned about the disorientation I am experiencing.

I scan my environment, praying that I will spot anything familiar that can point me in the direction I need to be going. Suddenly, it hits me like a lightning bolt--the realization that I am lost!

For what seems like an hour, I wander around, desperately trying to read the cross-street signs but unable to because of the density of the snowfall. My heart sinks when I realize at one point that I've been walking in circles.

I look at the blanket of white in front of me, and I am convinced that if I can just lie down for a few precious seconds, I will be warm and comfortable. I am so tired. The ground looks so inviting. If I can just rest for a few seconds...

THE PHONE RINGS!

Like a heralding angel's trumpet, the clarion call cuts through the sheet of white falling rapidly and--more significantly--arouses me from the fugue of my impending death.

"Hello?"

"Dad!"

"Oh, honey, it's you! Oh, my God, I'm so glad to hear from you!"

"DAD!" (She sounds angry.)

'Yes, honey?"

"Mom makes me so mad!"

"You called me to tell me that?" I am deliriously happy to hear from my daughter yet still able to identify her mood state enough to stifle my laughter of relief.)

"She just doesn't understand. I need you to talk to her, Dad!"

"Honey, you both will work this out."

"Dad, why are you talking so funny?" (My speech is slurred. I'm so cold!)

"Honey, praise God! He used you to save my life."

"What?!? What are you talking about, Dad? You're not making any sense!"

"Sweetie, I'll explain soon enough. Listen, I promise to help you out, but give me a few minutes to get back to the house. I promise to call you, okay?"

"Okay, Dad. Are you going to be alright?"

"Yes...now that I've heard from you, I'm going to be just fine."

With a resurgence of strength and conviction, and the commitment to honor the promise to my daughter, I somehow find my way back to the house.

No one can ever convince me that God doesn't exist.

Nine Long Months--A Reprise

Six weeks ago, my wife and I said goodbye to our lovely daughter.

She will be gone for nine long months, serving as a student missionary in Cambodia.

Her job will be to teach math and English as a Second Language to students of different ages in a church school.

Amber will learn a great deal about a culture and a people who are foreign to her in several different ways.

More importantly, she will learn some very valuable lessons about herself and her ability to draw from deep within her spiritual well to cope with the many challenges that she'll encounter.

Meanwhile, back at home, the nine long months will be a season for my wife and me to physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually matriculate to the next level of our blessed relationship.

There's something to be said about God's reasons and timing and purpose for our lives.

Nine long months...a beautiful mystery...and definitely something I'll ask about when I stand before Him some sweet day.

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  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Annacia

    Thank you for kind and empathetic words and sentiments, AnnaCia. Amber's sojourn in Cambodia turned out to be six months in which she faced a lot of challenges and yet returned a more fulfilled and mature individual. When you have a moment, please read the follow-up article, "Eye of the Tiger, Heart of the Lion." I am grateful that you shared in this experience. Aloha from SE Washington!

    Joe

  • AnnaCia profile image

    AnnaCia 4 years ago

    A father's love for a daughter is inexplicable and sacred in a way. I love my father and my connection with him goes beyond any other emotion…it is a state of mind. You waited for her for months and you cherished every moment with her. Thank you for sharing.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @ninasvoice

    I'm in a warm room typing this response to you at my laptop, yet as I read your comments about that night in the snow, I can actually remember the brutal cold and how I almost gave up. In the next room, my wife is skyping with our daughter, thousands of miles away in Cambodia. In a few seconds, I'll join them. What I marvel at is that I was reading your kind comments just at the time I began hearing my daughter's voice tonight. Uncanny!

    Have a wonderful holiday season, and know that you are a blessing to your readers. Aloha!

  • Ninasvoice profile image

    Ninasvoice 4 years ago from England

    What a lovely hub, very heart warming. The snow part is still making me feel cold, even though I am sat in front of a nice warm fire. I was sat hoping you would make it, then I realised, of course you did other wise I wouldn't be able to read your hub right now. Maybe the snow fell and you got lost so you were able to write this great hub and share your story with us all!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @nanderson500

    Thanks for dropping by to read this article and for your kind comments. Yes, Redmond is a wonderful city. I commuted from the Rainier Valley via light rail and bus in the evening and did the reverse in the early morning. Along the way home, I'd often stop at a Starbucks or Tully's and post to my blog. This was before I discovered HubPages.

    Yes, I am so thankful to be blessed with two sons and a daughter who are making a positive difference in their respective professional and/or academic fields. As I often share with others, I see them in split-screen images--as adults in one frame...and as little children in the other.

    Aloha!

  • nanderson500 profile image

    nanderson500 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

    Great hub! So you used to work in Redmond, eh? I've been there many times. I'm sure your daughter enjoyed reading this hub. What a great tribute. Voted up and beautiful.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Absolutely true my friend. You made go very emotional with this piece of writing. Have a nice day.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @rajan jolly

    Oh, I knew you would relate well to my state of mind and emotions regarding my daughter. So happy for you and your wife that you will have a nice reunion with your daughter in December.

    We see them--our adult children--with split-screen frames. They're simultaneously all grown up on half the screen and either infants, toddlers, or teenagers on the other half. Ah, where does the time go? Thank goodness for photographs--both the material ones and those indelibly pressed between the leaves of our hearts.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    This is a wonderfully compelling read. You reminded me of the times I spent with my daughter and whom I miss very much now. I can relate to so many of your feelings (I guess all fathers go through these very feelings). She got married a year back and lives in another country. Her daily calls are awaited with much anticipation. It seems so difficult to part with one's own flesh and blood. As one's grows older the heart grows fonder, I presume. And now, I and my wife are waiting for end December when she will be with us on her yearly visit.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Good morning, isenhower33!

    Thank you so much for dropping by to read my Hub and for your wonderful comments. It means a lot to me that your thoughts and prayers are with us and especially with the student missionaries like my daughter who are employed in God's service. Sounds like you may have had some SM or traveling experiences yourself. I'm certainly looking forward to reading your Hubs, too, and experiencing your compassion in literary form.

    Aloha, isenhower33!

  • isenhower33 profile image

    Bobby Isenhower 4 years ago from Crothersville, IN

    Great story :) I wish I was in Cambodia helping out over there or somewhere overseas, she must like it over there im sure :) Thanks for sharing your story on hubpages, I'll pray for your 9 months to go by fast and for her safe return :)

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thank you, Ka'imi'loa! Every time I watch Hawaii 5-0, I think of my daughter when I see the main girl. They are the same height (5-9) and build. The young lady is doing great in Cambodia. The honeymoon period of being in a new country quickly passed, and then there were the doldrums of immense homesickness and mini-depression, followed by a resurgence in faith and commitment to the kolohi yet beautiful children. I tell her, every child is a story...get to know their story...knowing full well that this will lift her and keep her focused in the remaining 7+ months. Thanks for reading and sharing your heart on this one, bruddah!

  • benisan85745 profile image

    Ka'imi'loa 4 years ago from Tucson, AZ.

    Beautiful Uncle,

    There is nothing I can say. I cannot relate, because the love I have for my step kids, who comically enough are my age, are not from me. It's remarkable though to hear a father express his inner most fondest feelings for a loved one...especially the bond between father & daughter. Both Hubs that I have read up on Nanigirl, has shown your vulnerability and how easily wounded you become just mentioning her name or remembering a simple activity the two of you shared.

    Christ has given you the best makana any person could ever ask for.

    Lotsa love & respect,

    Ka'imi'loa

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Oh, my goodness, I'll never forget that swirling mess of white in 2009! The reality was that I was only a few hundred yards away from the house where I rented a room. But I was still so very new to the neighborhood, and that factor, compounded by the terrible snowstorm, really had me disoriented.

    When I think of it, my daughter was at that "cool teenage" stage of life where she hardly ever called me. So for her to call me when she did, and her own circumstances that prompted that call, wow! I'm just blown away. No such thing as coincidence. I'm convinced a Higher Power moved to save my life. That's why I'm compelled to share it with others.

  • wetnosedogs profile image

    wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

    You have such wonderful sweet memories. Thanks for sharing with us. It was God's Will for your daughter to call you during that snowstorm. Great life saving. I know you are so proud of your daughter.

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