Parker, my firstborn son, you are a rare treasure. I remember back when you were just two and three years old, you would beg me to allow you to fly to China so you could be a missionary and share the Good News with others who might not know. You wanted to start a Bible study for your preschool class. You loved the Lord from such a young age, but you also always wanted to serve Him, and I felt so unworthy to be your mom. You wanted to do more for the King of Kings than I ever did, and most of the time, you taught me by example how to live a life for our Savior.
When you were younger, we always called you "grandpa" because you were such an old soul, born in the wrong era. You've always been an outdoor kind of guy. You shot your first deer when you were just six years old, all by yourself. You shot a bird with your bow when you were just seven years old. You've shot all kinds of animals with your guns and bows, always being mature and responsible with your decisions.
I remember the days when you and your buddy, Clayton, used to hang out on the ranch like survivor men, when y'all were just eight years old. You would shoot frogs and cook frog legs for lunch over an open fire, that you created yourself using sparks and Cub Scout techniques to build your fire! I remember for your sixth birthday party, you begged me to allow you to spend a week in the woods by yourself, just you and a weapon to be able to kill your meals. (I said no, of course, but you continued to beg for permission to do this for years!)
And then it seemed like just overnight you became a man. A man I am so very proud to call my son. You are not only handsome, you have a heart like no other 15-year-old "man" I've ever met. A heart for justice. Justice for the orphan. A heart for the underdog. A willingness to give up your position as the oldest in the family for the sake of a 17-year-old Haitian orphan. You graciously share your heart, home, room, and all of your belongings with your siblings. You are the first one to the van to unload groceries, and you always carry the heaviest items that no one else wants to touch. You honor God with your choices, your actions are a reflection of Him. You've delivered sermons publicly, and you've stepped out of your comfort zone numerous times for God. You do so much at Forgotten Saw Ranch, it's impossible to list everything, but please know that we are so very proud of the man you've become, Parker Matthew Patterson, our firstborn son.
We love you! Happy 15th birthday, "Parkey"!
PS Do you remember this essay (see below) that you wrote two years ago? I sure do! I pray God will always hold you close, and that He will keep your heart turned toward the things that matter to Him. I wish you many blessings throughout your 15th year of life, Parker. Love you!
What Adoption Means To Me
by Parker Patterson, 13 years old
A lot of people like to be critics and say that our parents are just forcing us to adopt all these kids. Those people are way off track; adoption is not just a good thing to do and everybody shouldn’t do it. God has to call you to it and the people who say it’s not fair to us kids or that it is a burden are completely wrong. I think it is a huge privilege and a great joy!
It is a privilege because it is rare for God to call a family to adoption like He has with ours. A good analogy would be diamonds. Diamonds are rare and special; if everyone had diamonds, they wouldn’t be all that special and it wouldn’t be a privilege to own one.
Adoption has also been a very big factor in developing my character. It has taught me so much about myself. I think adoption has been almost as good for me as it has been in the lives of the kids we have adopted. It would be so selfish to say ‘well, I know the kids in Haiti are starving, but I want more Christmas presents, so too bad for them.’ That would be so wrong!
In my opinion, the people who say we are being deprived are looking at it from a worldly point of view. I would much rather have more siblings and less presents. If these people are so narrow minded that all they can think about is how much worldly stuff we can accumulate, they must have never met our family! It seems to me that they need a change of heart. How about thinking about the starving, dying, orphans that actually are deprived. They have nothing, not even love from parents! The least we can do is give them that. Worldly things are temporary, short-lived, fading and not all that great.
Joy, true joy, is lasting, satisfying and fulfilling. For me, that comes from two things: God, and knowing that we are saving kids’ lives.
Before God even called us to adoption, I had started to notice that even all the cool stuff we used to get at Christmas didn’t ever bring me joy. And it’s the same with most worldly things, they just don’t last. But joy is way different. It is deeper and more lasting. I think hope and joy go hand in hand, kind of like a cycle. You get joy from the hope we have in Jesus. And you also get joy from doing God’s will. But without hope, there is no joy.
I guess what I’m trying to say is it is much more rewarding to help orphans than get worldly things. I think 2 great verses that our family definitely lives by are Matthew 6:20 and 19:21. Both kind of say that you should store up your treasures in heaven where they will last and that will bring true joy.