Happy Birthday to my first middle child! The little one who came into the world with a bang and has never really stopped since. You were in such a hurry to be out in the light that you were born with 2 black eyes and 10 bruised knuckles.
Once the bruises were gone we noticed something else about your face. The twinkle in those green eyes could light up a room and melt our hearts. Oh what a funny stinker you were. (And still are) You love to tease and taunt. Your surprising sense of humor keeps us on our toes!
You've been independent since the git-go. You wouldn't nurse to sleep. You'd nurse, then squirm and fuss, or even cry until I put you in your crib. Once I put you down you'd sigh, like you were happily melting into your mattress; then, and only then, would you go to sleep. You hardly ever wanted to cuddle. Before you could walk or talk you preferred to sit with a pile of toys in a corner rather than being held, kissed, or cuddled.
You were such a happy, busy little person. As soon you were up on two feet you never walked anywhere. You trotted-I think you loved the feeling of freedom you had when you ran. The most adorable part of it was that you always had to have a tiny toy gripped tightly in each sweaty little hand.
When you were about 4 grandma bought a tricycle for you. We lived in an apartment at the time and everyone but "yours truly" worked. That meant you and your brothers had the entire parking lot of our apartment building to yourselves all day. Roller skating, bike riding, playing chase.......one day I put a jump rope down in a line to show you where your tricycle-riding -boundary was. You sweetly rode your bike within that area until I had to run inside for the phone. As I came back out, there you were, skooching the jump rope over with your little foot. You knew better than to cross the line, but you sure didn't have a problem with moving it. At the time I was just a tad bit concerned. Would this boy try skooching the lines the Lord had laid out for him? Would he sneakily try and challenge the Lord's authority all his life? Over time I was relieved and happy to see you turn to the Lord and love Him and allow Him to become the Love of your heart.
One afternoon when you were 3 we went for a walk in a nearby cemetery. You said something so funny! There was a 12" cross on one of the graves. You quietly studied the cross for a bit, then said, in your sweet, little Elmer Fudd voice, "Daddy, look at dat cwoss. Jesus wasn't vewy big, was He?"
Always laughing, giggling, teasing...And your smile! Sometimes I'd look at your twinkling eyes and those knee-deep dimples and my heart would almost stop beating because you were so cute and you were "mine"! You brought, and bring, so much joy to our family.
I do remember watching you as you spent hours and hours and hours on our little pond, in the row boat, alone, looking for turtles, fish, bugs, birds and anything else that moved. You were thrilled to be alone, in the quiet, dreaming and thinking James' things.
Sometimes I'd stand in our living room, looking out the window watching you as you rowed around, wondering, "What is he thinking about? Is he praying? Hoping to catch a turtle? Thinking about math?" I wished with all my heart I could sit next to you in that muddy, spidery boat and just let you chatter away at me. I wanted so badly to know more about you...
During the first few months of being your mother, when I finally figured out, "Hey, this baby is extremely independent..", my heart developed a tiny, quiet ache. I just couldn't believe how quickly I was "losing" you. But, over time I've come to see that I haven't lost you. I've had to run right alongside you, but you are one of my best friends. You love me and listen to me. You tease me and help me laugh when I feel like crying.
The thing that means the most to me about you, (other than the fact that the Lord truly is Lord in your life) is that you trust me. You talk to me. We don't sit in a row boat and talk, but you do tell me what your struggles are. You tell me what your fears are, and your hurts. And you listen to me when I tell you mine.
I am so incredibly proud of you James. You are compassionate. Strong. Sweet. Tenderhearted. Selfless. Willing to give up your time and energy to help others, even when you're running on fumes. It's wonderful to see your strengths being used to show Jesus' love to the hurting little boys you work with downtown....to see how much you love them and their families and how their hurts become your own.
I've learned so much from you... It's amazing to see the way you submit your will to the Lord when you know that is what He's asking you to do. You don't wrestle with Him. You don't argue with Him. You keep on keeping on no matter what He hands you. You're a good example to me James.
You also have a peace about you that is almost "touchable". It's a calming thing. A reassuring thing. An "I accept you" thing. You are very easy to just "be" with.
I said this to Benjamin last Friday, but I'm going to say it to you as well. Trust me. I mean it:
I absolutely can not imagine life without you and your brothers in it. The Lord has used all 4 of you, as well as your dad, to bring joy, healing, and wholeness to a heart that grew up with a shattered family.
I like you.
I love you.
I need you.
I enjoy watching you grow and mature and learn.
I respect you.
I'd like to say that most of all, I'm incredibly thankful for you and your brothers.
Happy 20th Birthday, Lovey!
(You may not be a teenager anymore, but you are still retarded. :-) )
(For an explanation of that comment, see my post from September 14th)