While some young people are in Beijing this week striving for gold at the Olympics, I am at home thanking God for the gold He gave us they day you were born. I'm sad that you won't be here for your birthday (I really miss you), but I know your life is being greatly enriched at The Clash right now.
I'd love to list 17 ways your life blesses me, but your laptop battery might not hold up! So...here are just four things I want to say to you today.
1. You have a great sense of humor. I love it. I love your laugh, your quick wit, your ability to recite entire Brian Regan routines. Your practical joking showed up before you were even born: you toyed with your due date, sending us to the hospital on July 31st, August 2nd, and August 6th, and each time the doctors sent me home (mad!). When you finally came out, you were male, not female as I had unscientifically predicted. We didn't have a boy's name picked out and had to pray about one.
2. You live up to your name. Whenever I would pray for a name for you in those first 48 hours, I got the sense that its meaning would have something to do with your head. Every time I patted your soft little crown with the single blonde curl at the nape, I was getting images of kings, princes, and headship. Finally, our then-pastor Chuck Jennings suggested the name Stephen--"it means 'crown'," he said-- I knew instantly it was meant for you. We chose your middle name, Josiah, after the boy king in Israel. Little did I know that you'd grow up to be the head of your class, graduating summa cum laude at age 16. You have led well in so many areas--serving at home, becoming a prayer group leader at school in your junior year (a nomination typically reserved for seniors), being chosen to give the Senior Address, and in countless other ways. To quote Pappaw, you're a "prince of a fellow."
3. You are such a gentleman. I love the way you hold the car door for me, carry groceries in from the car without being asked, use good table manners, and make eye contact with people who are speaking to you. Those trademarks don't go unnoticed by parents, peers, and your pipsqueak brother. You have made Joel LOVE to hold heavy doors for total strangers in public.
4. Your passion for God is immeasurable. I haven't seen anything like it in any young man for as long as I can remember. You worship on your drums. You read the Bible early in the morning and late at night. You wrote your senior thesis on theologian John Owen. Son, do you realize how uncommon, how uncharacteristic, how unique that is? (Bet you read that as "un-neek," didn't you? Gotcha!) The very fact that you'd spend more than half your graduation money to attend a worldview conference in the summer tells your dad and me just how committed you are to growing in holiness.
I love you so much. You are a treasure, from the top of your golden head to the soles of your basketball-playing feet. It's an honor, privilege, and humongous joy to be your mother. Happy birthday, Stephen. We'll take you out for a nice dinner when you get home, and let you tell us all about your incredible experience this week.
Happy birthday again. You won't hear me say "I'm proud of you" because you know Joel will scold me, "Don't say that, Mom. Being proud's a sin." Rather, now that it's a family joke, I'll say, "I'm pleased with you." Very much pleased. And so is your dad.
P.S. When I see you in this picture with a little girl in Mexico, it makes me imagine how much joy you'll have when you're a father. You have admitted to looking forward to that; I pray that someday (not too too soon, of course!) that our God fulfills this desire. I'll gladly take a bunch of little Stephens and Stephanies someday.