In Joshua 4 the Lord directs the Priests to stack stones after they crossed the Jordan to signify to all the world the Lord’s greatness and what was accomplished at that place. It is the idea behind why we celebrate milestones in our home, there are no specific ways to declare a boy a man in our culture so we created our own using this biblical model of remembrance to rejoice in what God was doing in our son’s lives and to say to them we see who you are becoming… so at each graduation 8th grade, High School and College Tim would write them a letter. I am posting it this Father’s Day Weekend as a model for young Dad’s to read and use as a model in their own parenting journey’s…A Father’s words of approval over his children is one of the most important gifts a Dad can give. When Jesus was being baptized God from the throne room of Heaven gave his approval “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” I think you will find echoes of that as you read…Happy Father’s Day!
May 1, 2014
It’s hard to believe that four years have passed since my last visit to Florida. It was a tearful goodbye that marked that final day when we left Taylor at SEU. I’ve thought about that day a lot and find it exciting to be on a plane to see my boy in his world in the life he built for himself in FL. He graduates from college on Friday and I cannot contain my pride for him and his accomplishment. I am sitting in a window seat at 33k feet drinking coffee because it smelt so good. I am forming my thoughts for the letter I am writing to put in Taylor’s card. It’s what I do and have always done at these milestones in my son’s life. He got engaged last week and graduates tomorrow night so I’d say I’ve got some work to do. Here we go….
I remember it like it was yesterday… the look on your face that announced you were ready. The last of the packing would be done in the early morning hours so you had come to say goodnight as you were going to bed. I let you just stand there for an awkward moment to see what’d you say and to gain my composure because I knew what was coming. The final time I would put my arms around you and pray for you before bed. The next stage in life for you was beginning and it came way too fast for me. “Jesus be with Taylor, give him good rest and a great day tomorrow.” I know we’ve talked about this before but humor me… You always seem to know what say in moments like those… “Do you know you’ve been praying that prayer over me my whole life?” Yes I know… And I have continued to pray for you even though you were on the other side of the country away from me. And He has heard me everytime and walked with you through sunny and stormy days, made a way for you when we wondered how it could be, and speaks a hopeful word of a promised future.
That night I sat up and thought about all those prayers and all those late night talks, the times we laughed on the golf course and the dinnertime banter. I was missing you already… I thought about all the times I would get home late and sneak in to kiss your sweaty head as a baby. I thought about you asking me to turn the music down from the backseat of the car so you could scold me again for eating your donut. (You can’t just eat people’s donuts!)
I thought about you throwing your pacifier at me letting me know you where ready for a big boy bed – and about all four of us sitting on your bedroom floor after I had taken apart the crib. I teased you asking where you were going to sleep; you did not miss a beat saying, “I’ll sleep on the couch”. You always knew how to make the best of anything! Even all those crummy genes you got just for being second! Listen there was nothing ever crummy about the gifts and talents you possess.
I had visions of your sweaty head under the bike helmet roller blading down the street… hammering nails into our tree fort so you and Mychal could camp out that night. Then there was that time we went camping with the rangers in the desert and sat up late talking about God in the tent. These were moments when I noticed that you were growing up… milestones on your way to manhood and independence. I remembered you sitting at the dinner table sharing everything that had happened at junior high camp that year and how you suddenly got real serious and said “Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. God has called me to be a missionary.” I think you underestand today why we were thrilled and scared all at once! But like Mary, we have “pondered these words in our hearts” and are excited to see them coming to life in you today.
I remembered using the vacant Wal-Mart parking lot to practice your three point turns and parallel parking. I remembered you saying to me on a Wednesday night after church “Dad I’m heading out, I’ll text you when I’m home.” It was happening right in front of my eyes and I knew it – you were becoming – growing into an amazing young man. I was so proud of you during your Senior year of football when you sat down with your coach and reminded him who he really was when he lost his way. I saw the look in his eye at your high school graduation handing you a graduation card. I saw respect in his eyes and I saw my boy becoming a man.
Those were memories I had that last night before we brought you to Florida. Memories that let me know you were ready for this next great adventure – College. Sitting in the rental car watching you walk into the dorm as we pulled away let me know that I was not! With you at school, I figure I missed hundreds of late night talks, and good night prayers, but I willingly trade them all for what these four years have done for you and in you. He (The One) has been with you – always; He has given you peace through the stormy patches and opened new and wonderful opportunities – like that time you lead a missions trip to India – Oh and that time you traveled with WinShape for two summers all over the South. He has given you lifetime friends and a lifetime love. Thanks for waiting for her and bringing her to California to see us. You did good!! We love her too!
The rain is pouring outside our hotel room as I finish up my thoughts for you. Sometimes rainy days can make you feel gloomy, but today I am feeling hopeful and excited for you. I’m thinking about all the future memories I’m going to have as you live out the plan God has for you. I can’t wait to sit in my chair at home and remember all the things you will do in this life. I can’t wait to tell people what my son is doing these days. One last memory from way back… Big eyes, mouth plugged with the pacifier, sitting in my lap as I read – “We’re going on bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one!” Life with you has been an adventure I would do all over again – so proud of you today, so blessed to be your dad,… father … papa and Gepetto… I will never forget this rainy day in Florida because while everyone is looking for an umbrella, I’ll be basking in what mom always calls you – “Sunshine and Light!”
Happy Graduation Son – You are the man!