Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy 17th B-Day, Parker!


Our firstborn child was welcomed into the world on this day seventeen years ago.  So hard to believe it’s been 17 years!!! 


When Parker entered our lives seventeen years ago as our firstborn, our lives radically changed.  I thought I had everything figured out…before I became a mom. Smile


God used the gift of Parker to teach me so much.  First, He taught me how little control I actually had.  He taught me that I had to be utterly and totally dependent upon Him or I would fail.  And, in my own strength, I failed over and over again, but in His strength, He’d pick me back up again and encourage me to keep on going.  In His strength, all things were possible, even with a baby who never slept anywhere but on my chest (and if I moved, he woke). 


I can see now, in hindsight, how God chose to give me Parker first in order to prepare me for a variety of things He’d be leading me through later in life.  For about a year, Parker was very sick with high fevers (105-106).  He’d have fever for about ten days, then he’d be fine for about ten days.  This pattern continued for months, until the months of illness suddenly turned into a year of illness, with no answers.  He had more blood tests than I could even guestimate, always showing extremely elevated WBC (white blood cell count) and other whacky things, but nothing ever definitively revealed the source of the problem, other than possible Lyme disease, which was treated.  God used Parker to introduce me to advocating for my children, being their voice, navigating the medical community, and trusting Him in ways I’d never known before.


God also used Parker to teach me about therapies and sensory integration issues that greatly affected Parker’s behavior and his ability to function.  He was a healthy child who received proper prenatal care, yet it didn’t matter how “good” of a mom I was or was not, Parker required expert help.  God used the process of navigating and identifying Parker’s needs to prepare me for many future children He would entrust to my care who would also need expert help in order to thrive.


Parker was always our little Bible boy.  At age two, he cried because he wanted to host a Bible study in our home for his playmates who didn’t know Jesus.  True story.  At age three, he cried because he wanted to move to Asia to bring the Gospel to those who might never have a chance to know Him simply because no one shared the Good News with them.  Another true story.  Parker always gave his money away to causes that brought the Good News to those in need.  He gave money for Bibles in native languages around the world when he was just a toddler.  Yet another true story.


We didn’t have anything to do with Parker’s heart for missions.  NOTHING.  Honestly.  We were selfish and self-absorbed.  God used our precious first-born son to begin to open our eyes to the things that God cares about. 


Parker has always advocated for family time.  It would bother him greatly if we didn’t spend good quality time together as a family…OFTEN.  He advocated for family game nights, family soccer games, family swim time, family meal time (for all meals!), family…everything. Smile  He even begged us to start homeschooling when he was six-years-old.  Family is dear to Parker.


Parker quickly became known as “Grandpa” in our family.  God used Parker to steer us toward Him and His will over our own desires, even when we were resistant and stubborn.  Parker always advocated for justice and not only seeking God’s will, but obeying His will, even through the challenging times.  Parker gave a full sermon to our church during regular morning services (he was the pastor for a day).  He preached about the importance of having a daily quiet time, and he backed it up with scripture and personal examples.  Countless people shared with us how Parker’s sermon changed their lives, as they committed to having daily quiet time with our Father through Bible study, worship, listening to God, and prayer.


I’m not sharing these things to brag on anything we’ve done to make Parker turn out this way.  I promise it wasn’t us.  It’s always been God, despite our getting in the way.  In fact, if you ask many of our family members, they’d tell you the same thing. Smile  They’d even tell you they didn’t think Parker would turn out the way he has because he was such a challenging young child.  All of this is for God’s glory.  That’s the way He planned it, not only to help teach us and lead us, but to arrange things all along the way so that He would undoubtedly receive all the glory.


We have failed miserably as parents, as we learned to parent through the journey of our firstborn.  We spoiled Parker rotten, but God redeemed him (and us) though His unending mercy.  God has proven Himself faithful over and over and over again.  He has redeemed our mistakes and failures in parenting Parker and given us the proof through Parker that He is truly in control, not us.


On Parker’s 17th birthday, I am humbled at the results of seventeen years of parenting.  Parker is a GREAT young man, and we know this is NOT because of our doing.  It is all God.  We are so very grateful God chose to gift us with Parker as our firstborn, as the lessons He has taught us along the way are invaluable.  We are so grateful that God has held Parker close to Him, shaped his heart and his mind, and guided him to be who God created him to be.  What a privilege to call Parker our son.  Despite all our failures, Parker is what every parent prays for their child(ren).  Glory to God in the highest!


Thank you, Parker, for always teaching us and guiding us and reminding us of what’s important and what’s not.  Thank you for always following God’s ways instead of the world’s.  Thank you for your selflessness in sharing your parents, your room, your bed, your belongings, your home, and your heart with so many siblings, whom you’ve welcomed into our family with open arms, love, and acceptance.  Thank you for being you, “Grandpa”.  You’ve taught us so much along the way.


Happy 17th birthday, Son!  We love you and are so proud of the man you’ve become.

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