Monday, February 14, 2011

James . . . 16

Last Thursday James turned 16. I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. I remember crying the night before his 8th birthday because we were half way to 16 . . . that also seems like yesterday. And here we are four days past his 16th birthday. He's going to be 32 before I know it (okay, that's a little extreme, but you get the point)! It's so hard to believe that time has passed so quickly.

I must say, however, that I like 16 so much better than 13!!! James is growing up to be such a great guy, and I am so proud of him. I know church planting and attending a small church has been tough on him. We don't really have a youth group or a leader who really invests in him. Brent and I have pretty much been the only people locally who have done that. My greatest sense of loss when we left was what James was losing by not having Jeff Berg as his youth leader and not having his amazing group of friends in his youth group. That was a tremendous loss for him, but there was HUGE gain in that loss, for us as his parents, for him as a son and for him as a friend and evangelist. We have watched as he has reached out to friends, inviting them to hang out at our house, hear about Jesus, hopefully see Jesus in us and James, and have little seeds of truth planted in them. We have watched as he hurts some through not having a lot of friends (which, by the way, is terribly hard for a mother and father), but has a few very close friends here and a couple very close friends in Bartlesville, who have remained true, even across the miles. James is a loyal friend, which makes me happy. When he took his 8th grade trip to Magic Mountain, his closest friend did not want to ride roller coasters. James, who loves roller coasters, sat out to hang with Jake. It almost made me cry at the time. I don't think I would have made the right decision at that time in my life.

As I think back on his life, I just smile. We were so young when he was born. I'm so glad that God chose us to raise him. I'm not always sure why He thought that was a good idea, but I'm thankful that we follow His plans and not our own. I remember holding him for the first time. I remember looking into his perfect (yet imperfect) face and being so thankful that God gave him to us. He was beautiful. I remember releasing him to the anesthesiologist on the morning of his first cleft surgery. I remember how anxiety provoking that was and yet how God filled us with peace as we waited for the results in the waiting room. I remember when he first walked while we were at Brent's parents' house. I remember how much he talked from what seemed like day one. We used to listen to him talk to himself until late into the night. He had all sorts of imaginary friends and he would tell them stories, sometimes even until 1 in the morning. Sometimes he would fall asleep, then wake up in the middle of the night to talk some more. Our room in that house touched his room. We could hear him from our bed, and it made us laugh and laugh.

James has never had a good grasp of his age. He has always interacted with adults in such a way that made you wonder if he really got that he was a kid. Sometimes it has been a fun thing to watch; sometimes it has caused me to cringe. One time we were sitting at dinner at Grace Community Church with a friend, Mark. Mark is a great man, but a bit intimidating to most people, at least I think so, definitely intimidating to me on some level, though I think he's great. Mark was teasing James and having fun with him. James was in early grade school. He looked up at Mark and said, "You want a piece of me?" I didn't know whether to laugh or scold him. It was hilarious on the one hand, but on the other, it was quite obvious that he was not recognizing the generational gap. That's how he has always been with adults. It's not usually intended to be disrespectful. It definitely wasn't in that case. He was just trying to be funny in response to Mark's teasing. I don't remember anymore what I did. I wonder if Mark does?

We reminisced tonight with friends about how he used to say, "If I live to be ten . . . " and follow that with something. It used to freak us out, and we were so glad when he did turn ten, but he never understood why we found it so strange. He used to say, "I want to be with God." He had no fear and such a sweet, simple faith. That has not changed really. I remember how amazed Brent and I were, when he was young, of his understanding of Scripture. His teachers used to say that to us as well. I remember having to call Brent on the phone at night when he was at work because once again James was asking a question about the Bible that I could not explain. I remember one Family Sunday in church at Grace when Rod was closing with a question for us to contemplate, and James yelled out (yes yelled) the answer. I was just so thankful that he had the right answer. He was only six or seven, but he "got" it.

I remember so many funny things he used to say and do, and I remember his raspy little voice. I miss it!!! I remember all of my later pregnancies and how excited he was when we told him a baby was coming. He always wanted a girl. I remember the day we found out Sarah was a girl and going up to American Christian School, pulling the boys (James and Jason) out of class to tell them. The look on his face was priceless. Recently he asked me if we were going to adopt a baby. In his youthful mind, it only makes sense that we would. After all, I'm a social worker and I see children all the time who need homes. We talked about it a bit because I don't necessarily think we will (I never rule anything out anymore . . . not since I said we would NEVER move to California). In the conversation he said that if we were going to adopt a baby he needs to know so he can stay close to home when he graduates. He doesn't want a sibling who he doesn't know. Again, I had tears. I am so grateful for his priorities. I know being the oldest is tough (I am the oldest). I watch him with his brothers and sister and sometimes he gets frustrated and is bothered by them, but he loves them and wants to be a part of their lives. I am so thankful for that.

I think of the sweet notes he has written me over the years, expressing his love and appreciation. I hope that continues for years to come. The notes melt my heart. He does the same for Brent and for Jason, David and Sarah. It's so incredible! I could go on and on about him. But the bottom line is that I am so thankful that God gave him to us. He is such a treasure, such a blessing, and I am so excited to continue to watch him grow into the man God wants him to be. I could go on and on about my sweet young man. We certainly enjoyed celebrating his birthday. He wanted Brent and I to have a cook-off, each of us making a separate four course meal and him determining which was better. We both think he just wanted the extra food. We didn't do that, but we did cook some of his favorite things: filet mignon, twice baked potatoes, a salad, bread and chocolate creme pie for dessert. He was pretty happy! We spent the evening enjoying him and being thankful for his life.