Published in HomeLife magazine, August 1993
There is an old barn located outside of the town of Castroville. It’s hard to miss because it faces State Highway 90. I’ve driven by it dozens of times on my way to and from the Texas Hill Country. It has become one of my favorite landmarks.
The old weathered barn has a message painted across its wide double-doors in large unevenly spaced letters: IT’S A GIRL!
I smile every time I drive past the old barn. It stands as something of a monument commemorating a time of overflowing joy. It is obvious from observation that the faded message was painted on the barn doors many years ago. In fact, it would not surprise me to discover that the girl is now a woman with kids of her own!
But I’m glad that the daddy, whose joy found expression in a bucket of paint, left the message on the barn. It’s only right that such a message should remain and continue to inspire wonder and smiles. I wish that more of the old barns on life’s roads were as inspiring as the old barn outside of Castroville.
There is another message that I find warm and inspiring. It is an illegible message scrawled in various colors of crayons on the walls of my garage.
Soon after we moved into our home, I bought a couple of gallons of white paint and set about painting the interior walls of our garage. After painting the walls I carefully put up sheets of peg-board, also painted white, to hold my assortment of garden tools, hammers, and other garage-stuff.
Upon completion of the project I left town for a week-long speaking engagement. During the week I called home to check on my wife, two year old daughter, and one year old son. That’s when I was informed that our daughter had made her way into the garage with a box of crayons and used my newly painted walls as a canvas for her artistic expressions.
Interestingly, she scribbled circles of various colors all the way around the garage, even on the inside of the garage door! I didn’t get upset, I just laughed and smiled and felt good about being a daddy. After all, I still had enough paint to cover my daughter’s first mural.
But when I got home and saw her work, something told me to leave it alone. And so I did. And I’m glad. And on occasion when I’m piddling around in the garage or doing yard work, the crayon-colored circles catch my eye and I remember and smile and feel good about being a daddy.
As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the struggle to cover all evidence that we have children or that children once actively resided in our homes. That’s understandable. But don’t cover all the evidence. Let the scratch on the coffee table or the crayon masterpiece scribbled in one of your favorite books or the message on the barn doors survive.
Leave some signs to remind you that “children are a gift of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3a) and that your home is or was once-upon-a-time blessed by the presence of children.