Happy Birthday, Sunshine!

August 24, 2017

Today marks 12 years of you making people smile. Actually, you had us smiling before you were born. In fact, the day I found out about you, I laughed. I mean, what else could I do? I was HOLDING a baby AND pregnant with a baby? This was obviously God’s plan and I had NO idea how I could handle THREE babies, but I instantly loved you, and I laughed – in bewilderment and in joy.  Daddy and I had been trying to decide if our family was “complete” with two kids or if we wanted to have another. We weren’t sure. We had said “two” for years, but once we had two, I just wasn’t convinced that we should stop there. The truth was, I REALLY wanted another baby, and while Daddy and I were discussing what was best, I was also praying and asking the Lord for a child. The day we found out about you, I admitted this secret prayer to Daddy. I then playfully asked if I could pray for twins. He said NO! 😊

As you know, when we selected your name, we chose it for a number of reasons. First of all, it had been on our list of likes with your brothers as well. Second, your name comes from the third son of Jacob in the Bible and you were to be our third son. Finally, it means “joined in harmony” and this EXHAUSTED Momma of two very busy little toddlers REALLY needed you to join our crazy circus as harmoniously as possible. You did exactly that.

The one and only time you’ve ever been in a hurry in your life was on the day of your birth. You came quickly. Grammy didn’t make it in time for your delivery and the doctor almost missed it as well. Praise the Lord for his timing and the swift action to protect you from an issue with your umbilical cord. Once all was well, you were instantly a star. The hospital marketing department came to visit us to ask if we might be interested in being part of their photo-shoot for their commercials and other publications. We were thrilled to agree to your very first acting role. You played the part of a BEAUTIFUL newborn baby, and you played it brilliantly. The commercials aired for quite some time and the pictures remained on the hospital website for years to come.

As a little guy, you were very chill. You were content to sit and watch your surroundings for long periods of time. You seemed to be always watching and thinking – quietly learning from the big brothers who jabbered at you and for you. “Levi wants this…Levi doesn’t like that; he wants…” on and on they went translating your expressions and speaking for you.

Somehow time has slipped through our hands, and you are now an articulate young man who can speak for himself. You’re still not quick to do so, though. In fact, you’re pretty laid back about life in general and are not very naturally inclined to push for your own way. Hmm….joined in harmony. There it is again: your beautiful self, adding depth and life to the song of our family in your own subtle way.

The past few years have stretched, and challenged, and grown you. You have changed. We’ve watched the pressing and the heat refine your personality and bring out qualities of courage and endurance that we had not previously seen. Some challenges have come from your own body with dental surgeries, vision issues, attention concerns, and anxiousness (where Carribean-calmness used to dominate). Other changes have come from our family’s immersion into the world of foster care and adoption. You went from being the baby…the “caboose” as we called you, to being a big brother – a role we had not previously known you in. We had always commented on how sad it was that you loved babies the MOST, yet were the only boy who didn’t get to have a baby around. Little did we know what God had in store for us. You are an incredibly loving and attentive big brother. You love to protect, teach, and entertain your younger siblings, and there was never the slightest bit of resistance from you.

Entertaining is your outlet. You love to laugh and you love to make people laugh. You have overcome your tendencies to be literal in favor of embracing wit, puns, and good-natured sarcasm. I am proud. 😊 The days of you asking me to “please not tease” (as you did in your toddler years) have been replaced by you carefully teaching the youngest among us to embrace the fun as well.

You are smart, and gentle, and sensitive. You are strong and courageous. It seems that no matter what comes your way, you press on. You don’t like to be rushed, and you long for a laid-back world free of pressures and worry, but even so, you persevere with a sweet smile on your handsome face. You take new opportunities, face new challenges, and find things to laugh about at every turn. You are our book-reading, dog-loving, piano-playing, hard-working, kind-hearted ray of sunshine and we thank the Lord for the gift of you. Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to “Momma’s Baby”

August 19, 2017

You are a brilliant, energetic, funny, witty three-year-old boy, and our time with you has FLOWN by! In your three-year life, you’ve experienced more than you even realize. Your life represents 1,096 days of God’s grace. It’s hard to believe that for 83 of those days, we did not know you. We weren’t there the day you were born. We weren’t able to protect you, comfort you, help to meet your needs. You were 83 days old when you entered our home, and even then, we did not know you were to be our son forever. We only knew that the Lord nudged our hearts towards you with a simple little word: yes.

I remember one of our first nights together. You were awake: first fussing for your bottle and then fussing because of your tummy troubles. My experience as Momma to two other reflux-babies taught me to hold you close and pat firmly to soothe you. You refused to be snuggled chest-to-chest and insisted, instead, on facing away from me. You trained me quickly with your shrill screams, and melted my heart with the sweetness of victory when you finally relaxed in my arms. I remember thinking how strange it was to KNOW that I was up in the middle of the night with another woman’s baby, and yet to have it feel perfectly right. It was God’s grace. I remember whispering my secret question to you, “Are you someone else’s baby??” I could not bring myself to ask what I really wanted to know…”Are you my son?”

Your baby days flew by, as all baby days do, and I found myself sometimes gripped with panic that I might be missing something. It’s hard to explain the feeling because I wasn’t missing anything. You were with us all the time. We saw each milestone, heard each laugh, treasured each moment, but we didn’t know if the “moments” were ours to keep or if we would someday wrap them up in a pretty package tied with heartache and send you “home” to another parent. I didn’t know if I was remembering enough, treasuring enough, doing enough…I didn’t know if you were going to stay, and I was missing you even as I was holding you.

Now here we are at your THIRD birthday. We celebrated your first two birthdays with you also, but this is the first one we’ve celebrated when we can fully, legally, officially say you are our son. What a gift!

You are a passionate, intelligent little man with tremendous athleticism. From the moment you began walking, you’ve been dribbling a soccer ball like you were born to play. You also throw a baseball, dribble and shoot the basketball, easily complete a full jump-stop, and throw and catch anything you can get your hands on. You admire “the brudders” (as you refer to them collectively) and you don’t hesitate  to keep up with them in whatever they are doing. They are your heroes, your protectors, and your friends. You also keep close tabs on big sis and enjoy talking and laughing together with your matching voices and similar giggles. You can make us smile at the drop of a hat and refuse to smile like no one I’ve ever known.  For over two years, we endured photo after photo with our own “Stonewall Jaxon” – refusing to crack a smile or humor us with a laugh. Just in the past few months, we discovered the joy you find in teasing and refusing to cooperate. Now, we use reverse psychology to get you to participate in what we want. “Don’t smile, Jaxon….whatever you do, don’t smile!” The result, of course, is the ornery grin that we know so well.

At this age, you are a fireball of opinionated, demanding independence with a side of sweetness. You are a Momma’s boy through and through, yet you’re tough and daring. You jump from high places and land – solid on your feet – with a proud, growling victory laugh.  You are determined to be “bigger” to ride the rollercoasters RIGHT NOW. You have no fear (which certainly heightens mine), and you can often be heard saying “I wanchew, Momma!” while reaching for me. You’re just days away from mastering potty-training and there’s not much “baby” left in you. You love to ride in Daddy’s truck, watch movies, play outside, line your cars up in a perfect row, play with the wooden trains, do puzzles, read books, play ball, and eat. You are a “hangry” fella, and if we find that there’s nothing we can do to settle your temper, we can almost always bring back our sweet baby with a bit of food to curb the rage.

We are so thankful for the privilege of watching you grow, helping you learn, and being your Momma and Daddy forever. We will never forget the day the Sovereignty of God placed you into our arms and allowed us the beautiful heartache of walking with you and your biological parents through the valley. As the song says, “You’re worth every fallen tear. You’re worth facing any fear.  You’re gonna know ALL my love, even if it’s not enough – enough to mend our broken hearts, but giving you all of me is where I’ll start” (Matt Hammitt – All of Me).

That is where we started, little man, and that is where we’ll stay…always and forever giving you all our love. Happy Birthday, baby boy! May this be your best year yet!

All of Me