Today, you are thirteen and here are thirteen things that I’ve learned over the years, written for and in honor of your birthday.
1. You came into the world loud and determined. Like most new parents, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. But what a beautiful thing to remember how we instantly loved you and how little by little we just figured it out. Funny, at times I feel the same way thirteen years later. You’re still loud and determined and we still (at times) have no idea what we are doing, but little by little, we are figuring it out.
2. Always have a hunger for life. For learning and growing and for facing life head on and head strong.
3. You’ll see that so many times, life seems to come full circle. Because when you were a baby, we worked with teenagers in Youth Group, hanging out with them and encouraging them to do great things for Jesus with their lives. And now some of these very students are leaders in our Youth Group today and they are the ones that are investing and encouraging you and your friends to do great things for Jesus as well. And every time it makes me smile.
4. Life is awesome. And hard. And pretty much everything in between. Embrace it all because it all holds value.
5. Yes, the teen years will have ups and downs. But learn to laugh and laugh a lot. Let go of the things that bring you down and embrace the joy that each day brings.
6. Every year is a blessing. Every year that you live is a gift and one that we never want to take for granted. We’ve seen so many struggles throughout these years but it’s taught us much and most of all, it’s taught us to be thankful because God has given us so very much.
7. Lee Ann Womack and I hope that you never lose your sense of wonder. Corny, yes, but it just seemed so fitting for this picture. What can I say, it’s 1:00am in the morning and I really should be sleeping, but I mostly just want to get this written because if I don’t, I know I never will. Moving on.
8. Keep walking on the path that God’s set out for you, son. When I look at you, I know that God has great things in store. It might not be easy, and there will certainly be distractions along the way, but stay the course. And know that we will be with you to guide and help you as much as we can.
9. Find rest and peace where you can. You are busy and you probably always will be. So look for the moments in between where you can just sit and be still. These are about as important as the busy moments are because without them, you won’t be able to keep going. Find rest as you need it.
10. Know 100% for sure and for certain that your parents love you. And remember this when we (I) try to do things like make you eat acai bowls and take your vitamins. At the end of the day, we are doing our best and we will always want the best for you.
11. Look to Jesus for what you need. This life, this world brings trouble. But take heart that Jesus has overcome the world. He loves you the most and He knows what is best for your life. There is nothing greater that we desire for you, than that you would know God’s love and that you would follow His plans for your life.
12. Stand tall and be proud of who you are. Thirteen seems significant because it’s the beginning of these years of growing towards becoming a man. You have a strong will and determination and we pray that you would use these to do and accomplish much.
13. And finally, the thirteenth thing that I’ve learned and that we want you to know, is that you are so loved and that you have great people who are wishing the very best for you. All in all, we are so thankful for an incredible day to love you and to celebrate you and your thirteen years.
*Thank you so much to everyone who reached out to wish Christian a happy birthday! I’m pleased to say that it was a great day with family breakfast at the Diner, mountain biking in the afternoon with Dad (thankfully no baby ticks this time) and then an evening celebrating with a small group of his awesome friends.