Dear Ashleigh,

Today you begin a new season and chapter in your life – high school.  Given the past and you beginning new chapters like this, I do not know if you understand how hard it was for me to get through those moments (day care, pre-school, grade school, and middle school). I held it together to get you through and once I left you, it wrecked me.  Middle school was the worst; I sat in the car sobbing as if I had lost my best friend.  As you know I am not one easily moved to tears, however with you that never seems to matter, your firsts have always done it.

You have heard countless stories of your birth and how I held you for hours on end, never wanting to share you.  I was the first one to hold you after you were born and when could not seem to fall asleep I would place you on my chest and you fell right to sleep.  From that first moment I held you in my arms we connected.  I have never been sure if it is because you are my first or because you are my daughter but I never expected my heart to respond like that.

As you walk through those school doors and begin this part of your journey, I see so much in store for your future.  My purpose for you has always been to get you to think outside of the box, reach beyond your potential, and never accept life just as it is.  You are absolutely amazing, beautiful, and intelligent.  I do not want you to just accept life and get by. I want you to know that you can make a difference in this world and not just to one person, but many.

Do not let anyone tell you you can’t or stop questioning things.  Never ever give up and till your dying day always ask questions, don’t just accept what someone tells you as fact, dig deeper.  Do not let anyone ever take away your dreams and desires to be what you want to be.  As you go through the next 4 years take advantage of every opportunity given to you.  Your life will be richer and fuller for it.  Whatever you face during the next 4 years, if you remember nothing else I tell you, remember I will always be here for you no matter what.  My arms, lap, shoulders, or ears will never be too old or busy for you.

High school can and should be a lot of fun.  Challenge yourself to try new things, make friend with people you normally would not.  Do not worry about trying to fit in with a certain type of group.  Stay true to who you are, for it is your heart and what is on the inside that will make folks really like you.  Find a couple of good friends you can trust and do life with, you will have better memories.  Fashion, popularity and having the latest stuff has always been the thing high school is about. Some folks try to pursue those throughout their life and never find true happiness. Choose wisely and choose the things that are of real value, relationships with people will always matter more than chasing after things.

High school was not a fun time for me.  Three things I remember very distinctly.  The first day of high school, I walked in and stood around the other guys my age and I was told, “You don’t belong here with us.”  I tried to kill myself because of the rejection and abuse I went through and all four years were spent in fear of others.  Those things left marks much deeper than many other experiences I have had in my life.  I hope and pray none of those things will happen to you and while they did happen in mine, it helped me become the person and father I am today.  You never know what life is going to throw you, but sometimes even the worst things we could think of, have a valuable impact in our life.

There are days I feel like I have just totally messed up and failed as your Papa.  Countless nights I have lain in bed realizing how I screwed up again.  I am not perfect – never have been and never will be.  For whatever reason God saw fit to allow me one of the greatest blessings in my life and that was to be your Papa.  You have no idea how empty my life was without your presence.

There is nothing we cannot talk through or work through.  At times even when you feel like you cannot talk to me, turn to God.  My relationship with God is what has gotten me through all the hard times and it was during high school that it really helped me. I would not be the person I am today if I had not leaned on him and allowed him to work in my life.  Your relationship with him is all your own, it’s not something I can create for you.  When everything else seems like it is gone, he will always be there for you.

In just 4 short years, you will be a legal adult.  You can drive a car, vote, work and do just about whatever you want.  You are responsible for your actions; good or bad choices produce good or bad consequences.  We have provided you with the tools you need to get through life.  I do not think or see you as a little girl.  I see you as young woman who has the skill set to do those things.  I am ready to begin pulling back; allowing you more freedoms and watching you develop into that adult.  Now is the time you begin making your own choices and testing your belief system.  My role will always be your Papa, now that role shifts and I will be here to help guide you.

4 years is really a blink of an eye, it will go faster than you can even imagine and very soon it will be us standing there watching you walk across that stage as you graduate and move onto the next phase of life.  It does seem like it is hard to believe you are already starting high school and I have been wondering how it is really possible I am old enough to be at this place.  It is the right time, right place and so as you go, I am ready. One think I ask, can you please call and tell me you are ok?




Chris Goforth is a husband and father to 2 teens, 2 tweens and 2 adopted toddlers.  He and his wife make their home in Portland, OR.   He is a allowing Jesus to impact all areas of his life. To find out more about Chris, go to:

Twitter: @pacnwdadof6

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3 Responses

  1. @anaolgyqueen

    I have been moved to tears once again…as I have with each of the guest posts this week. Thank you so much for sharing your entire story. Beautiful.

  2. Sheri

    I love the beginning message in your letter. I wish more people would encourage their children to stat true to themselves and not just accept what may be handed to them, but to dig deeper and go for more. It’s a fantastic message to any child just beginning high school.


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