Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sweet Sixteen

Today is Carson's 16th birthday! 
We're in celebration mode over here and I thought it would be appropriate to do a rerun of an old post that I wrote for my boy. 
I remember when they placed you in my arms.  A beautiful son.  You were so tiny and helpless.  I remember how your little feet fit in the palm of my hand.  I'd take my fingers and brush your hair over to the side.  You looked like a little man.  I knew, even then, that it wouldn't be too long before I could no longer pick you up and that, one day, I'd likely have to look up to see your sweet face.  I remember how I wanted to keep you little and hold you in my arms forever, but I knew that wasn't the way God planned it. 

I remember thinking, that day, of all the things that you might grow to become.  A friend, employee, boyfriend, student, team member, husband, father, uncle, supervisor, leader.  I thought about all the things we needed to teach you first.  How to love, how to share, how to work with your hands, how to manage money, how to fish, garden, cook, wash clothes, shoot a gun, and have good manners.  Oh, and how to shake hands, start a fire, run a chainsaw, change a tire, and use jumper cables.  I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of how much ground we'd have to cover.  I wanted to just keep you with me and do all those things for you, but I knew that wasn't the way God planned it.

I thought about how, one day, you'd likely have your heart broken by a girl.  One day, you might like her more than she likes you.  One day, you might not make the team.  You could be left out on the playground or be overlooked.  Some day, you might be bullied or come home crying.  You could be mistreated or wrongly accused or feel insecure.  My eyes filled with tears just thinking of the possibility of your heart being crushed as I held you that day.  I wanted to pull you close and protect you from all the pains of life.  I was ready to fight all of your battles for you and keep anyone from hurting you, but I knew that wasn't the way God planned it.

I thought about the responsibility of teaching you about God and salvation.  I thought how that was the most important part of my job.  One day, you'd learn Bible verses and go to Vacation Bible School and learn songs about Jesus.  We'd take you to church and try our best to lead you by example.  I thought about how we'd have to teach you life lessons and encourage you to make good choices.  I thought about how inadequate I felt in the face of that giant task.  I wanted to just snap my fingers and make all those important decisions for you, but I knew that wasn't how God planned it.    

That day, I thought about all the ways you'd make us proud.  We'd likely receive some compliments about you through the years.  We'd probably attend our share of programs and ballgames and competitions and we'd surely take lots of pictures.  I was sure your room would have trophies and patches and certificates on display.  I thought about how you'd have skills and talents that we'd need to identify and nurture.  And, one day, you'd find that one thing that would excite you down to your very core.  There would be a passion that you would discover along the way.  Something that God had placed inside of you.  Something that would make you who you are.  I wanted to plan out your life and make choices for you that defined success in my mind, but I knew that wasn't how God planned it.

I thought about how you'd inevitably fail, sometimes.  You'd just not hit the mark.  You'd give it your all and it wouldn't be quite good enough.  There would be jobs you wouldn't get and awards that would be given to someone else.  There would be tests that you'd bomb.  There would be times when your name wouldn't be called or you'd look on a list and it wouldn't be there.  I thought about how much more that would hurt me than it would hurt you.  Just the thought of it broke my heart as I held you that day.  I decided I might need to discourage you from sticking your neck out too far and try to keep you on a safe path where disappointment couldn't touch you, but I knew that wasn't how God planned it.       

I thought about how, one day, you'd ride a bike and a skateboard and even drive a car.  One day, you'd travel without me and go places all on your own. You'd go off to camps and overnight visits.  There would be a day when you'd want to ride a horse or buy a kayak or climb a deer stand.  One day, you'd want to travel the country by motorcycle or climb the tallest mountain or learn to fly a plane.  I thought about broken bones, stitches, skinned knees, bumps on the head, and wrecked cars.  There would be sleepless nights, trips to the ER, and sitting up late to see that you got home safely.  I thought maybe I would just protect you from danger by keeping you close to me and not letting you out of my sight, but I knew that wasn't how God planned it.

I thought about how, one day, you'd likely find a special girl.  You'd want to be with her as much as possible.  I thought about how she'd start to become the center of your world.  There would be a day when you'd go to her with your problems and ask her for advice.  I wondered how that would make me feel.  I wondered if I'd feel replaced.  I held you and just wanted to keep you all for myself, but I knew that wasn't the way God planned it.

As I looked down at you, I thought about how, some day, you would be leaving our home.  You'd pack your things and load your U-Haul and head out in the direction of your dreams.  I thought about how it could be to a college or a boot camp or a job in a big city......or a thousand different other possibilities. I thought about how you'd have a calling and there'd be a place in God's big world where you'd be needed.  I thought about how quiet it would be without you at home.  I thought about what an adjustment it would be for your Daddy and me.  I looked down at your baby face and planned how I could hold onto you tightly and keep you from ever going off on your own, but I knew that wasn't the way God planned it.          

You'd never grow to become the man God intended you to be if I kept you little and cradled in my arms.  You'd never have any strength if I fought all your battles.  If I charted your paths, they'd likely take you to places you where you wouldn't be happy.  If I sheltered you from danger, you'd never know the joy of adventure and the thrill of living.  If I kept you from taking chances, you'd never realize your potential and find out what you're good at.  If I did all the hard things for you, you'd be lost when I'm gone.  If I kept you for myself, you'd never know the joy of true love.  If I protected you from experiencing pain, you'd never learn to persevere or appreciate good times.  If I dictated your decisions about God, you'd never know the joy of salvation.  If I kept you here with me, you'd never find your special place in the world.   

And that wasn't the way God planned it.     

No one will ever be as proud of you as I am.  No one will hurt for you like I have.  No one will stand taller at the sound of your name than I do.  No one will cheer for you like I will.  No one will want more for you than I do. 

No one knows what it's like to hold you inside like I did. 

No one.   

And as you grow and mature and start to test your wings, remember that, until I draw my last breath, you will be my baby boy and no one will love you quite like I do.
Happy Sweet Sixteen, Carson. 

It's been sweet, indeed. 



  1. A beautiful tribute to your son! Happy 16th Birthday Carson!
    I love how you put your thoughts into words.
    Have a fun Day, Kathleen in Az