8 March 2011
Well, the little boy is now a man! Happy 18th Birthday.
I so wish that as your Dad, I could take you by the hand when you wake up each morning and guide you through all the pitfalls that lie ahead. Throw the big yellow WARNING signs up that say “DANGER AHEAD” rather it be with your relationships, your future career, your financial business, all those things that life has out there.
I also wish I could be there for every time that I see you smile. Oh how I’d love to be there when you are gasping for breath that is robbed from you when you are rolling in the floor laughing. Yeah, just as real life has heart aches and dangers, that same life can be so rewarding and filled with joy.
As much as I have tried, yeah, times I have failed, not that you didn’t listen, my failure because at times there were decisions that I made/didn’t make that could have had a major impact on your life, well, children can have just as much of an impact on their dad.
Get comfortable so I can tell you a tale. About the time you were born, my chain of command at that time was through a Master Sergeant in Lufkin. I don’t know when, where, or why he felt that I had pissed in his camp fire but he admitted to my face on two occasions…”it is my goal to see that you DO NOT retire from this organization. I want to see you gone”. Well, as an E6, there wasn’t much I could do. He was politically very well connected. For me to lodge a complaint, due to his rank, I’d been the one moved, not him. With JT just getting started in school, a move was out of the question.
I came in from work one day simply mentally wore slap out. I hit the old white Lazy Boy, pulled off the black combat boots, and leaned back wandering…where is this career taking me? Well, a little fat legged, big butted diapered boy crawls up to my boots by the chair. He wrestled the boots a bit and finally got his stubby little legs in them and after a bit, finally stood up in them. You were barely walking at the time and it was awesome seeing you try to walk in my boots that came all the way up to your hips. My thought was…”does this mean he’s gonna grow up trying to fill my “boots?”
It was in that very instant that I made the determination that I WILL NOT allow this man in Lufkin to rob MY SON of the opportunities this career is/was providing him. Needless to say, God was in charge. See, here I am at 22 years of retirement eligibility. The E8 was soon thereafter brought up on charges related to what I had been dealing with it involved a different soldier. You, you son are the one that in that few short moments made me decide that it is/was no longer about how much money is in the bank, how much insurance we have, how big of a vehicle is the drive way, it was about you, Katie, JT, and Tucker growing up with what, I hoped, you kids understanding that life isn’t about what is given to you, it’s about what is worked for and for what the true purpose is.
Life is also about making choices. Relishing in the rewards that good, wise choices give us and be acceptant of the consequences of the bad choices we make and prepare to learn from them.
As a man, and finishing your high school education, you are fixing to start making literally life changing, life ALTERING choices on your own. As a man, some of these choices will be what builds your character.
I didn’t get a letter like this from your Grandpa Tom. No, it doesn’t disappoint me that I didn’t. However, one of those “father/son” conversations we had when I was very young, to this very day, has always stuck with me. “Charlie, sometimes as a man, we have to make choices that in our hearts, we know are the right ones to make regardless of what everyone else thinks”. Ryan, are you gonna be that man? When you are married, are you gonna make the CHOICE to do the things that others would think are a “woman’s job” to do? When you find the perfect “One”, are you gonna be in the heat of passion and make the CHOICE that to take that “virtue” from that woman is something that you DO NOT have the right to do outside of a God Sanctioned marriage? Are you gonna make the CHOICE to serve rather than to “be served”? When you are married, are you gonna be the man to make the CHOICE to raise your children in a God fearing home where YOU, the DAD, bears the Spiritual responsibility of the home? (This is where, through the years, I failed as a dad. I can only hope and pray the example that I attempt to live now is what is impressed upon your heart).
As you may recall, at one of the NetExtreme camps we were at, I shared a bit that mistakes made in the past, opportunities we had to make the right choices are gone. We can’t go back in time to re-live them. We can only focus on the choices we have to make in the future. Don’t allow yourself years down the road to be thinking if I could only go back and do that over again. Trust me, it is a very painful thought. So, what I would suggest to you is this…”I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” This is the words of Paul spoken to the Church in Italy.
Son, as per age, as per state law, as per the school system, as per any other “legal” system that exists says you are a man now. I say you were a man a while ago. The life you are about to begin is yours, it’s not mine, it’s not your moms. However, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you will always be my Son. The only thing different is that I will no longer be making CHOICES for you. You now bear that burden. Naturally, while on this earth, I will always be the ear you need, the shoulder you need to lean on, and of course, your avid prayer supporter.
I’ve lived life. I know the pitfalls, the heartaches, consequences of bad choices as well as the joys and blessing of a righteous life of good choices can lead to. Especially the CHOICE of and God granting a second Son named Ryan. The day will come when God will call me to my (our) real home. Until that time, I can only pray the time that you were a child, the way I lived my life, the way I communicated with you, the activities we did together, the interaction (ouch, I don’t know really how to write this part)your mom and I had while you were growing up, has planted a seed in you to take advantage of the “right” things you were taught and to stay away from the “wrong” things you witnessed.
Son, rather you put on a military uniform, are wearing a suit and tie at a fortune 500 company, are selling billboards for an advertising agency/insurance/cars/ any other items, or pushing buggies at the local Wal-mart, I give you my full, unhindered, freely endorsed blessing for whatever you CHOOSE that life to be.
I only ask two things of you. No. 1, never, ever allow your Spiritual walk with our Almighty God be compromised. Remember the CHOICES. If you make a bad CHOICE, be prepared for the consequences. If the CHOICE is the right one and it hurts, remember, God doesn’t forget us; we simply have turned away from Him. He is always there ready to comfort us ( 1 Peter 5). The question is, are we ready to humble ourselves to acknowledge His Holiness and seek His comfort.
No.2. It is YOUR life, not anyone else’s, take responsibility for it. James 4:8 says that God will draw close to us if we CHOOSE to draw close to Him. God had a plan for YOUR life before you were even born. Problem is, the further away we have turned from Him, the harder it is for us to see His blessings, His will. Don’t you think if God was in control of your life it would be much better than you being in control of it all by yourself? He has plans for us all. However, that doesn’t mean we sit on our butts and wait for it to happen. He has the blessing for us. He leaves the CHOICE for us to pursue or not to us. Saying this, opportunity will NEVER fall in your lap! If you want something to happen in your life, then GO MAKE IT HAPPEN! A famous but true military saying…”someone may have the absolute best plan in the world to accomplish the mission. However, unless it is executed, it will always just remain a plan”. You give the willingness and the desire to execute, God will take over from there.
Ryan, on this day part of my responsibility as your dad is done. I will always wear the title of your dad. On this day, the life that I have managed, supervised, laughed in, cried in, prayed for, the life God had me to care for while you were growing up is no longer mine. It is time for Him, and for your heart to take over.
“Heavenly Father, I come before Your throne of mercy and grace, in the presence of Your Holiness giving thanks for the honor and the trust You placed in me to be Ryan’s dad. Oh God, I am so thankful for each time we laughed together, for the times I was there to comfort him when hurting, for the times that I wept for him. God, I’m thankful for the courage you gave me to pray for him and with him. God I ask for forgiveness for the times that I violated Your trust in me when I failed You and him by not presenting myself in the way that would be pleasing to You.
Father, as this little boy that grew into the young man that he is on this day, God I pray for Your Blessing upon him. Give Ryan the strength and the courage to stand when all those around him don’t. Give him the faith that allows him the strength to stand firm on Your Word when all of the flesh around him fails.
As he begins life as a man, Oh Lord, this world can be so evil and Satan lies in wait at every turn in order to cast any and every temptation he can on Ryan. God I pray that You give Ryan the wisdom to put on all of Your Armor to withstand the temptation and when the battle is over, Your Holy Spirit come to give him comfort with the Peace that can come only from Your Holy Spirit.
Oh Lord, clear the clouds from his eyes so that He will be able to discern and identify the plan You have laid before him. Father, guide him to the career that You have prepared for him, place his feet on the path that leads to the Godly woman that You are prepared to bless him with, Lord, allow Him the faith to seek Your perfect guidance in every aspect of his life while on this Earth.
You are a Mighty and Faithful God. Take this man and make him strong for Your Service. This prayer I lift in the name of Your Holy and Perfect Son, Jesus Christ. Amen”
I love you, Son.