"I'm sure you know this already, but man James is an awesome kid. :-)"
This was written on my Facebook wall the other day by a friend who also attends our church. I can't tell you how proud that made me. He really is an awesome kid!!! We have so many things that we love about him, so many funny stories. He's a hard worker. His boss calls him the robot because he works so hard without stopping. He's funny and makes us laugh all the time, most of the time intentionally. He's creative. He can draw and design and edit video and does it all with excellence. He is a great writer. I love finding his notes in my Bible. He writes little notes to us that mean so much. We love talking to him after church on Sunday to hear what he learned from the teaching and his critique of his dad. Brent says that if he wants to know the truth, he asks James. His critiques are normally very helpful!!! He loves the Lord and he loves people. He is a servant. One of my favorite recent memories was at a Gone for Good when we went to feed the homeless. Brent was not with us, and he's usually the one who draws all the people together and uses his hospitality gifts as easily in the homeless park as he does in our living room. I was busy serving with some of the other adults in our small group while other adults were watching the kids who were with us, so the people were not being drawn into conversation and rather than sitting with us, they were getting their food and going to sit under a tree. I looked up and saw James and Jason walking over to sit with them. They sat down on the ground right next to them and were striking up a conversation. After I finished serving, I went over to see what was being discussed. They were discussing the Vietnam war. The two man they were talking to at that moment had both served in Vietnam. James continued talking to them for probably over an hour. When we were driving home, I told him how proud I was of him for taking initiative and going over there. He said, "I just wish I was more like dad." I asked what that meant. He said he has to force conversations with them. He wished it came as naturally as it does for Brent. I almost laughed at his expectations for himself. Not only is he only 16 and speaking to homeless people, but he's 16 and speaking to 50-60 year old men and feeling bad for his conversational skills when obviously those men felt perfectly comfortable to talk to him for so long. He's just incredible with people. Many 16 year olds would have been mad at their mom and dad for making them go to the park and would never have considered going and sitting on the ground to be part of the conversation. Not James.
He had a really interesting/scary experience about a week ago. He was out on his skateboard at about 9:00 a week and a half ago on a Friday night with his friend, Jake. They were on their way home from grabbing a bite to eat. It had been a rough week, and I was wiped out, so I was laying in bed watching a movie. Brent was beside me when the phone rang. It was a very odd conversation that I could not understand but it seemed obvious that I should jump up and get ready to walk out the door. James was down the street, by the elementary school that David and Sarah attend, with Jake and the police. He and Jake were riding down the road when they realized a car was driving slowly beside them with about five guys in it. They decided to make a turn and go into a neighborhood to get away from the car. They were punching in the code to open the gate when the car pulled up and two guys jumped out of the car. Jake realized what they were doing and rolled his skateboard to them then ran into light and called the police (FLIGHT). James, on the other hand, responded by shoving the first guy out of the way and running after the second (FIGHT). When he ran after the second, the first got up and used a taser on James's abdomen. They then grabbed his board and ran. It turned out that James and Jake were maybe the third victims of the evening, and another boy was attacked after them. (This fight or flight story is a perfect example of James and Jake's friendship. They are as opposite as can be, but incredible for each other.)
It was super scary for all of us . . . the boys and their parents. We've all recovered, though I still think I may be a little overprotective for a while. James works at a skate and surf shop, so the next day when he went into work, his boss gave him a skateboard, and James bought Jake a new board also. That night we took James over to Jake's house, and both boys were back on their new boards. The police caught the criminals and they (at least some of them) are in juvenile hall. Some, if not all, of the items have been recovered. Brent was on the news as was the back of James while on his board. I was nervous about the news involvement, but I guess it's all okay. I can't seem to upload the link to the news story, but it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORyWtyBUoK0, if you want to cut and paste it.
This has been another moment in my life as a parent where I realize just how precious life is and how I need to be careful not to take things for granted. We are so thankful they had a taser and not a knife or gun. It could have been so much worse. As we talked to Jake's parent the following and watched the boys on their boards playing and having fun, I think we were all incredibly grateful.