We are just days away from loading up the car and making our way to Mount Vernon Nazarene University for your freshman year. As I stood next you yesterday, all I could think to myself were these simple words…..it’s your time now.

For as long as I can remember you have stood by my side. From the time I carried you to the time you were old enough to stand on your own. Basketball games, baseball games, concerts, church, conversations with everyone from celebrities to our neighbors and friends. You’ve done what you do and quietly observed. Believe me when I say that I knew you were there and each word I said was being recorded in your memory. As they say, it was all “caught not taught.”

As we drive away from the campus I will no doubt hope it was enough. There was no manual. There were no instructions for parenting when we put you in that car seat to come home for the first time. We did what we knew to do. We did the best we could. Your mom was far more influential in your spiritual journey. She taught you early and often to love Jesus. She wrote scripture on your heart. She was and is the spiritual rock in our family. Trust me when I say you will lean on that as you head off on your own.

From the beginning, I have tried to show you the world and all it has to offer. I’ve tried to show you what it means to lean in to every opportunity and experience. We’ve seen it all. I’ve taught you my experiences both good and bad. I’ve warned of the mistakes and shared the joy of a moment. Now it’s your turn. The pages are blank and the pen is in your hand. It’s your time now.

Several years ago we were at a friends house for a cookout. When a frisbee we were throwing went over a rusty, rickety old fence, you insisted that you go get it. I saw danger. I saw a concrete pad on the other side and a fence that would never hold you. I saw a face plant, ambulance and several missing teeth. You saw a frisbee. While everything in me screamed to not let you do it, I did. This was your adventure and I had to let you take it. Needless to say, no face plant. No ambulance. No missing teeth. Just a frisbee and confidence you had done it on your own.

It’s your time now.

This past weekend I stood next to you in your big six foot something shadow. You tower over me now as I once towered over you. In many ways my introverted extrovert personality hides behind you the way you once hid behind my leg. You’ve saved me in large crowds, public places and gatherings. I bet you never knew that. This is your time now.

Hey babies crawling on the carpet
No, you won’t be that little for long
One day you’ll move away but you’re still gonna stay
This innocent after you’re gone
‘Cause no matter how much time goes by
And no matter how much you grow up
For worse or for better, from now ’til forever
I’ll always remember you young
-Thomas Rhett (Remember You Young)
This is the circle of life. This is what our job was when we found out we were having a child. God placed you in our care that one day we would release you to the world to do the same. I can think of no better place for you to begin that journey. It was clear from the start. This is where your journey begins.
As we drive away know this much Austin Armstrong Conrad……this is your time now. All of the stories I told you now become the stories you will tell us. While I could not be more proud of who you already are (Mom gets 99.9% of that credit), I can’t wait to see all that you will become.
This 18 years has been my joy.
The future is too
This is your time now.
Love,
Dad.

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